by Tim McRae
It's a beautiful, sunny afternoon. You're just out for a boat ride, to escape the heat perhaps. The fish finder is on, just in case. Suddenly, as you glance down, you spy what seems to be a large mound on the bottom. It was only there for a second but you are sure you saw it. Turning around you spend and hour looking for what you thought you saw. Finding it could mean good fishing. If you are boating on a lake in the Canadian Shield what you probably saw on your screen was a rock pile.
Rock piles were left by the retreating glaciers of the last ice age. You may come upon them while walking in the bush. Most times however they are covered by earth. In the water they stick up from the hard bottom often found in this region. Varying in size, rock piles can be from several to a couple hundred yards in circumference. Shallower than the surrounding bottom, as night falls and the water temperature cools, these piles of rock in the middle of nowhere attract small bait fish. Where there are bait fish there are bigger fish. These piles can be ten to fifteen feet higher than the surrounding bottom. When fishing these spots I would recommend using a round anchor. The traditional pointed arms of an anchor can get hung up on the jagged bottom. An empty paint pail filled with cement and a bent rebar works fine.
These spots are usually still-fished with some kind of live bait; minnows and night crawlers for example. Baits can be fished as easily as just a hook and sinker, hovering just above the rocks. In warmer weather, when fish are biting lighter, a long leader with a live minnow works well. This allows the fish to swallow the bait before feeling the initial pull of the line. Trolling around the outside of the pile may work also. Worm harnesses and minnow lures are the most popular choices here. It will take some experimenting to find the right set-up to get close to the bottom without catching the rocks. A rig that I often use consist of a three way swivel with a small bell sinker. The lure is suspended on a three to four foot leader which keeps it off the bottom. The bell sinker is tied to the three way swivel with a lighter test line. This way if a snag occurs this line will break first, allowing you to retain your costly hardware.
These rock piles can produce consistent fish throughout the summer months. So if you spy a strange mound in the middle of your lake be sure to put forth the effort to re-find it. You're pleasant summer nights may be filled with easy, relaxing, productive fishing. Bent Poles to all!
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