Fishing: Shuswap Lake
I know that we've all read an article on a favourite lake that we fish or a lake we'd like to fish, but many of them fall short of what we'd like to hear. What I mean by that is that the article is more of a story than something that could be construed as informative. That's not to say that the writer's of those stories have their heads up there sphincters but, it does mean that by being a "writer" it does give them some literary licence to make the story sound good! I find the same thing with many of the fishing shows I watch on TV, after a couple years of Willy Wannabe's or Dougy Dufus's, it all seems to come out as "blah blah blah blah!"! I can't remember the last time I watched a TV show where they got skunked for a entire day, or even days, which is what the real world of fishing is. And don't go trying to tell me that Bobby Butthead ALWAYS catches fish 'cause that just ain't so!
So, what I plan on doing with writing about lakes or any other place of fishing, is just how it is when it is. That's why in this article about Shuswap Lake I'll just talk about fishing, where to fish it, how to fish it, and why you should fish it. No BS, just plain fishing stuff, that may or may not help you when you fish this lake or any other big lake. Lets get started!
Ya, Shuswap Lake has a 1000 kms of shoreline and its shaped like an "H" yadda yadda, where are the fish! They are in the lake, and its a huge lake and a deep lake, so tackle and "stuff" you use is very important. Sure, you can use your 6' Canadian Tire Special rod with a Chung King reel and some 8lb mono but, good luck with that! With fish exceeding 20 lbs in some of the species (rainbows, lake trout and bull trout) you're better to equip yourself with more "salmon fishing" type tackle. About this time some fly guy will be reading this and saying "he's full of crap, I caught a 16 lber on a #26 chrony with 2 lb test tippet blah blah upchuck walla walla bing bang!", and so be it. He also wont' tell you that the fish was dead tired by the time he played it for 10 minutes or more and he couldn't revive it! I believe in having a good time with the fish while its on the line but, keep the fight as short as possible and get the fish released as quick as possible. That means bigger terminal tackle and rods, and line in the 14-20 lb range. Downriggers, a definite must, especially during summer when most of your fishing is down below in cooler water. Dipsy Divers, Jet Divers and similar equipment to take your line down can also work but that's more hardware on your line you might not want. Downriggers can be cheap, 50 bucks will get you into the game.
Hooks, read my website! There are a ton of hooks you could use, and there are those days when I go through the 30+ hooks hanging from my gunnel to just try and get a bite! Shuswap Lake is a single barbless hook, no bait lake, and, depending on the size of the lure will determine the size of the hook on it, the right size can make all the difference for action of the lure and a proper hook up on the fish. For example, I've tried various hooks on the 3" Apex, and with the wrong hook on the stern it either does nothing or goes nuts and just does circles! Get a good selection of each kind of plug, spoon, Apex, or flies. There are some colors and styles that can be deemed the "go to" hooks when all else fails, but even these don't work all the time. If your not getting the bites but marking the fish, time to change up.
Speaking of marking fish, a fish finder makes all the difference in the world to my success in fishing. Yes, there is no doubt that that guy in the 12' aluminum who goes out all the time ALWAYS gets fish, or at least that's what he tells you, and he has no fish finder. So be it, that's his style of fishing, mine is investing in a half decent sounder and fish the shoals of the lake, whether they are 10' down or 120' down, and mark those fish. The sounder at least gives you a place to start fishing, where you can see the fish may be holding. Its much easier putting your lures down to a depth that you see the fish at rather than guessing the entire day and wind up putting your hook everywhere except where the fish are. This is especially true of lake trout, although I quite often catch rainbows when fishing for Lakers in what I would consider laker domain.
Boat speed is always a big question I get in my mail, and I can say that my speed is almost always between that 1.9 to 2.3 mph. Many other anglers prefer a faster speed but again that depends on what species you may be fishing for and what time of year your fishing for them. If I'm not getting any action at a particular speed and I've changed hooks etc. and am still marking fish, then it never hurts to try a speed change as well. A half mph could make a big difference in getting fish to the boat. The old saying that its better to troll to fast than to slow doesn't always work either. The "to fast" scenario idea is that it gives the fish no chance to think when the hook goes by. Its merely an instinctive attack at something it doesn't like, rather than a feeding reaction. Hey, it can work and sometimes its the only way to get the fish to bite!
One more secret to share that many others are already aware of and have tried with great success, change areas! I have seen anglers flog one area the entire day and wind up with nothing, whereas another angler may have covered 3-4 different spots and at least got some bites. I have certain spots I've fished over the years, on all the lakes I fish, and if I get no action within a couple hours I'm moving on, regardless if I'm marking fish or not. You can be marking fish but they may not be on the feed, so I don't waste any time on them. Although fish are always on the prowl for food, there are those times that they too may need a break from the feedbag and are just lounging rather than eating. I do agree that fish are opportunistic feeders but, you can't tell me that a bow that has 8 huge koks in its gut is going to be as interested in a lure than that fish that has an empty gut, it just ain't so.
That pretty much sums up any secrets I have, not much but, my "system" does work for me and has also worked for many others who have implemented it. I always get mail asking me what I do, where I go and what I'm using, and my best advice is to keep notes from my site and use that information while your on the lake. Fishing is to "iffy" to always count on the same hooks or spots so change up the way you fish more often. This can work on any lake, from the smallest mountain fly fish lake to our big Interior lakes. In fact, on our last salmon trip we did exactly what I explained here, and we came back with a bounty of fresh salmon! Try it out, you've got nothing to lose and maybe more fish to eat, or just catch and release! Captain Poppy