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SARLEY: 'Wacky worming' is where it's at

This is the time of year for fishing with Senko-style plastic worms, a technique often referred to as “wacky worming.”

This is a deadly bass technique that can work in all depths but is especially productive in water 15 feet deep or less. That is where you’ll find all of our area's big bass from now until they are done spawning.

The style of worm you use for this method is a straight worm that is widest in the middle and tapers smaller on each of the ends. They are usually 4 or 6 inches long. Senko is the most popular brand, but almost every manufacturer of plastic baits makes its own version. I like to use dark colors like blue, brown, black and dark green.

You’ll need a fairly stout rod to fish wacky-style. Spinning and baitcasting both work for this technique. For line, I use 10-pound Fireline tipped with a five-foot fluorocarbon leader of eight pound test. Sometimes, I spool up with just an eight-pound test Fireline in the crystal color.

For hooks, the octopus-style hook works best. These hooks look a little like a circle hook, but there is a difference. You’ll need extra-sharp hooks like those from Gamakatsu. I like red hooks for wacky worming. You don’t use weights when you wacky worm. Your worm is the only weight you’ll need.

You put the hook directly through the middle of the plastic worm. Fold it in half to find dead center. Some folks use a split ring around the center of the worm. They force the worm through the ring and then put the hook through the split ring instead of the plastic.

Using the split ring will save money because you won’t have as many worms being torn up by the wild bass strikes you’ll get. The problem is that you won’t hook as many fish because the split ring causes the hook to be pointed in the wrong direction.

Avoid the split ring. Trust me on this one.

Now that you are set up properly, you’re ready to start catching fish. Pick a target and cast your worm. It will hit the water and ever-so-slowly start to sink. As it sinks it will bend in half and open back up, over and over again. It is a tantalizing motion the fish just cannot seem to resist.

You really have to pay attention when you go wacky worming. Watch your bait as soon as it hits the water. You’ll often get a hit the moment the bait lands. If you don’t, keep your line slack-free and just let it sink slowly. When it hits the bottom, jiggle it a little and then bring it back and repeat your cast.

Most of the time when wacky worming, you won’t feel a traditional bite. Watch your line, because when a bass takes your bait it will usually run with it to the right or left or toward you. It won’t run straight away from you, so you will not feel the fish tugging on your line. When the line starts to move, reel up any slack line and then set the hook. I mean set it hard, real hard.

It doesn’t take long to get the feel of using the wacky worm technique, and you’ll be amazed at how many fish you can catch with it.


Northern Illinois

Dave Kranz from Dave’s Bait, Tackle and Taxidermy in Crystal Lake reports: “Flood waters have gone down and fishing is returning to normal. Bass are starting to spawn in small ponds and shallow bays that warm fast. Use Yamamoto Senkos or a Bang-O-Lure in 1 to 4 feet of water. Some fish are being caught at Vulcan Lakes in the Three Oaks Recreation Center on Rapala Husky Jerks and shallow running crankbaits. Crappies continue to hit Cubby Mini-Mites with a small minnow or a wax worm on it. Catfish on the Fox River can be caught on cut bait, nightcrawlers or Sonny’s stinkbait.” Call 815-455-2040 for updated reports.

From the Spence Petros Fishing Report: “Fishing recently on local lakes we've been getting 20 to 25 crappies an outing along with quite a few bluegills and lots of small bass that love those little plastics. Just about everything comes on Wedgies on a one-sixty-fourth-ounce jig head, under a small float. Chartreuse was by far the best color with red being hot one day. Usually when using darker colors you would get bothered more by small gills. I've got a number of 12-inch plus crappies this spring, all on the Wedgies. I started using the 1-inch Gulp minnows because I thought they might be more durable, but they weren't. They worked great but at $4.99 a package they get pretty expensive. I’d rather stick with the Wedgies at 100 for five bucks.”

As of Tuesday, the Upper Fox River and Fox Chain were open to boating, but the lower Fox River had a “no wake” restriction imposed on it. For up-to-the-minute water conditions on the Fox Chain and Fox River, visit foxwaterway.state.il.us/ or call 847-587-8540.

Lake Michigan

Capt. Bob Rossa of Migrator Charters (www.ALakeMichiganCharter.com) reports: “Spring Coho fishing has continued to be very good this past week. Small OO orange dodgers with blue/green/gold Peter Flies tied 16 inches behind them have continued to be the best bait. Some steelhead and king salmon are also being caught, but the majority of the catch has been Coho salmon. The perch have not shown up yet and it remains to be seen if they show up at all again this spring.”

Call Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Fishing Hotline at 414-382-7920 to hear the latest fishing information for Lake Michigan and its tributaries.


Morel mushroom hunting

Perfect conditions are here for what should be a dynamite morel season. The ground is warm, we’ve been getting plenty of sun and the ground is fairly moist. Look for elm trees that have died in the past year or two and are still standing. Check the ground around these trees in a ten-foot radius, or so. Take your time and look carefully. Sometimes you’ll find some exceptionally tasty ones that are thimble-sized.


Our friends at Spring Grove’s Yellow Bird Products are holding a “May Sweepstakes” to win $50.00 worth of Yellow Bird Fishing Products. All you have to do to enter is to “like” Yellow Bird on Facebook and sign up for their mailing list. If you already “like” them and are also on their email list, you will be automatically entered. The winner will be announced May 30.

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