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Shallow shorelines can be a good place to fish

By Doug Skinner

Bass The shallow lakes of South Jersey offer a unique chance for productive shoreline fishing.

During the early spring, these shallow areas are fishing hot spots. The water is starting to warm up and many fish are moving into the shallows to spawn. Fishing for largemouth bass from the shoreline can become difficult in the summer. Warmer water forces some of the larger fish into the deeper holes that are usually outside of the casting area. That certainly does not mean it is impossible to catch a nice fish from the shore, all you need is patience and persistence.

Sunfish, of all varieties, and chain pickerel hang close to shore throughout the summer. Bass and pickerel will cruise the shallows feasting on smaller sunfish and minnows even on the hottest days. The days are much longer in the summer, passing a lake at 5 p.m. no longer means that there is only an hour of sunlight left.

Some of the best summer fishing happens after dark. When the water temperature cools the fish come out of their summer holes and hit the beaches looking for a meal. All that is necessary to enjoy a few evening hours at the lake is some easy to find and inexpensive equipment.

For a fishing rod, you'll want something that can fit in the backseat, or even in the trunk. A 5-foot, 6-inch rod can easily fit into most trunks. A one-piece rod that is 6-foot or more has a greater chance of ending its life in the quick slam of a car door.

Travel rods, which come in numerous pieces, can fit snuggly beneath a seat. However, rods made from multiple pieces do not always offer the same strength that is often found in a one-piece rod. The one-piece construction offers a sturdier, more dependable rod for easier hook sets.

A small spinning reel spooled with about 120 yards of 8-pound test will match the rod. It is always good to use a slightly heavier line in the summer, as it will suffer less breakage due to the line abrasion that occurs when fishing in heavily weeded areas close to the shore.

When you are exploring the shoreline, it is better to keep your favorite lures contained in something that is light and easy to carry. Small canvas tackle bags are very effective. These bags will be able to hold an adequate variety of lures to cover your basic fishing needs, while remaining easy to manage.

In choosing a bag for this purpose, look for something with a shoulder strap. The shoulder strap will keep your lures at a convenient distance allowing your hands to remain free. There are hundreds of different lures on the market, but rubber worms/lizards, jigs, and topwater lures will prove the most effective in the summer months. Rubber worms/lizards are very effective in most situations especially in the lily pad beds. Weedless jigs are very effective when fishing downed trees or other brush that may lurk in the water close to the shoreline.

Topwater lures will offer a change of pace when lures beneath the water are not producing. These lures also produce dramatic strikes from hungry fish and are usually most effective at dusk or right after dark.

Unfortunately, we don't all have access to a boat. For those who do, you don't have access to it all the time. So, with a little preparation, and room in the car, you will never again miss the opportunity to stretch some line on the way home from work or school.

There are lakes all over South Jersey just waiting for you and your family to enjoy. Kids can have just as much fun fishing as they can playing video games so get them outside and stretch some line.

Doug Skinner covers freshwater fishing for the Courier-Post. He runs a fishing club at Gateway High School and is a volunteer fishing instructor for the Boy Scouts. He can be reached at sjoutdoors@gmail.com

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