Knowing the best times and locations to catch freshwater game fish depends on your knowledge of their habitation. You’ll need to know if the water’s temperature is right for the catch and it would help to know the living conditions for each type of game fish sought.
Cover and structures are used by fishes as protection and food source. While a structure is different to cover – the two are similar, but structure will remain if there was no water, whereas cover relies on its water source to remain in place.
Various types of cover can include anything from debris to weeds and vegetation, or a dock – man made or natural. Structure is more natural, like points, humps, shorelines, different sized rocks, breaks, islands etc. Learning about the different structures takes experience but is worth the effort.
To gain an advantage over other less informed/educated fishermen, you’ll need to know where fishes tend to frequent; weed beds are a favourite place among fishes due to the homely atmosphere it provides them with, also a food source and protection from other danger. A break or an edge will attract lively fishes. A break is transitional; one thing/place to another, water temperature or a change in direction.
Spawning and the Underwater Food Chain Cycle
The majority of freshwater game fish can be found around the weeds in the early to mid spring season; a place they frequent for spawning, as plants are a great source of oxygen, food and cover. Also, they enjoy the protection that is provided by mass amounts of debris, like broken wood from sunken boats and other types of sunken materials, or debris in the form of branches – another excellent form of cover.
Other game fish like trout (native), char and catfish spawn in the summer and salmon in the fall season. Female fish spawn eggs for fertilisation and are known as redds or nest builders; setting up a nest for their spawn like bass fish would do or bluegill (sunfish), whilst other spawning methods used by game fish is known as random spawning in which eggs are laid over certain weeds, rocky surfaces, brush, and areas filled with gravel.
Different species of fish spawn eggs in different ways, however, all fish depend on a certain time to begin their spawning but more importantly the water temperature must be right too. Eggs are developed more quickly in warmer temperatures, but colder temperatures cause eggs to develop at a much slower pace; several months if the water temperature is cold and several weeks in warm water, with male fish who stay behind to keep the spawn safe.
The plants then provide oxygen for the water, which cleans itself by way of the ecosystem, recycling the winter’s waste to feed the algae in spring season, which then feeds the microscopic zooplankton who, in turn, feed the fry (younger game fish and the minnows), and those fry feed all sized predatory fishes.
Learn the cycles and the processes of the underwater world and you’ll gain a much sought after advantage to all manner of freshwater fishing.