I haven't shared many of the emails that I receive, so here's a sampling I've saved over several months that touch on a variety of topics.
Roland S. from Mount Prospect wrote:
"I've followed your column for a lot of years and I already know about your 'love affair' with Little Action Mac worms. Personally, I am a big fan of in-line spinners. In my humble, nonprofessional opinion, I believe in-lines can be a go-to lure in both rivers and lakes."
For the most part, Roland hits a home run on this one.
I have used several different brands of in-line spinners and have done relatively well with them. I sometimes carry spinners made by Mepps, Panther Martin and Northland. I've caught fish using each of those brands.
And over the years, I've also learned that by using a good, ball-bearing swivel to hook up a spinner helps to deter line twist.
Now, are spinners the do-all, surefire fish catcher? I'm pretty sure such a thing does not exist, but at least in some instances, these flashy lures have saved the day for me.
Fred D. of Arlington Height sis a big fan of ultralight spinning. Here's a part of what he wrote in his email:
"I fish in several Midwestern locations and generally catch a lot of smallmouth and walleyes on 4-pound test mono. I did notice last year, especially on lakes that are super clear, my strike and catch ratio has declined. Any suggestions?"
When fluorocarbon line appeared on the market some years ago, I was quick to jump on the bandwagon because that type of line is relatively invisible below the surface. But I stopped buying one particular brand because it kinked up just about every cast. It was finally improved, but yet it still presented a problem for me.
Other brands didn't present that same problem, so now I use fluorocarbon line strictly as leader material, which in turn helps camouflage the main mono running line. It works extremely well in clear lakes. Try some 6-pound fluorocarbon leader material next time out.
While the reasons are far too numerous to detail here, two major possibilities for a negative bite could be the fish are spooked by the line and lure. The other commonly accepted fable is the fish you seek are just not eating.
Mark F. from Wheeling is going after smallmouth bass this year, and posed this question:
"You rarely mention Lake Michigan smallmouth bass in your column. Is it we don't have them swimming around here, or are you saving them for yourself?"
I am trusting the decent, honest and ethical anglers on this one.
If you take your time and use your head, Mark (and I'm not saying you don't), start looking at the Wisconsin-Illinois state line right out of the North Point Marina.
Lake Michigan smallies tend to relate to the rock structure along the shoreline. And if you add a touch of green weeds, all the better. If you have the time and patience, slowly drift southward and stay close to shore. Make a plan to work sections of the north suburban shoreline over a week's period of time.
You might have to give yourself a month or two to locate these tremendous battlers. Try 4-inch plastics, Little Action Macs, Rattl-Traps and jigs tipped with leeches. And let me know how you did.
Carl D., who hails from Libertyville, wants to fish closer to home.
"How about pinpointing some of the ponds you always mention in the columns?"
As I've written before, I found these hot spots by just driving around and exploring the industrial parks and apartment complexes. These aren't secret spots, but happen to be out-in-the-open locations loaded with big panfish.
• Contact Mike Jackson at email@example.com, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and podcast at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.