Rigging the Dunes, Part 1of 2
Current does wonderful things to a river or lake bottom, especially if there is a good sand content. Just like wind on a sand desert, dunes will form on the bottom of lakes and rivers by water currents.
Fish tuck in to the lee side of the sand dunes biding their time until something edible passes overhead. The fish are protected from the main current by the elevated sand and will not expend any unnecessary effort to maintain position. The current will curl over the sand dune, the heaviest current flowing overhead and the lesser current curling downward on the lee side of the dune. When food is directed downward by the current, fish will rise and take the offering, then settle back into the protected area.
Here are some suggestions you might want to try the next time you rig or jig areas with shifting sand or under water dunes.
First, try and match the current with your presentation. The water at the bottom of a river will be slightly slower than surface so take a read on the GPS before setting out your rig or watch how much line you have to put out before you maintain contact with the bottom. Faster surface currents will force you to use heavier weights and let out more line, taking away the advantage of a more vertical positioning for a good hook set.
The electric trolling motors may be all you need to improve your presentation by slowing down your drift speed. I have fished in waters where a drift sock and the main engine were used to slow down the drift due to very fast surface currents or wind. Experiment to improve your chances by keeping your offering in the strike zone longer by going slower.
Secondly, try and run parallel to the dunes. This puts your bait in the groove between dunes and in front of more fish for an extended time versus running a rig at 90 degrees to the dune. You can read more about this in a short story called Fishing All the Angles and subsequent publications.
I prefer heavier weights, even in lighter currents. I like to keep the weight fairly vertical and extend the leader length when the fish are pressured. This gives me a better understanding of where my line is when I feel that first tick. Others prefer the long lining method so it becomes a matter of personal preference.
Third, using a bobber stop and small bead behind your weight is a good way to make your outfit more flexible. If the fish pick up and drop, you can quickly push the weight forward and extend your leader. This is often the ticket for pressured fish when matching the current or the bite is an issue. In conditions where there are the odd snags, I will double up the stops to prevent the weight from sliding towards the hook too quickly when hung up.
In my opinion, fishing current with bait other than live minnows requires a swivel to prevent line twist. I guess it is just habit, but I do the same for minnows.
The business end of your rig is important too. Many fishermen use a single hook at the business end. If allowed, I prefer a two – hook set up.
See Rigging the Dunes part 2 for more tips.