I know some people who turn up their noses when a fellow angler talks about catching carp, drum, gar or some other less sought-after fish. These underrated species are considered trash fish to bass and trout purists, but I just like to catch any fish that bites and puts up a hard fight. So if the bass, trout or crappie aren’t biting, I can still have some fun catching those underappreciated fish. Here is a look at some of the underrated fish species you can pursue some action when the popular game fish are uncooperative.
You can find carp in just about any lake or river throughout the country. They will bite on corn, bread, dough balls with mixed ingredients, prepared baits, worms, and crickets. I remember when I was a kid the time my Dad and I were fishing a flooding creek and caught several large carp on nightcrawlers, from that point I was hooked.
Many anglers (especially internationally) take carp fishing VERY seriously and equip themselves with specialized rods, high tech bite detectors, and secret homemade baits.
However, there are also people like my father, a guy that has caught carp for over five decades using simple rigging methods, cheap fishing rods, and nightcrawlers. The simplicity and easy accessibility to carp fishing make it a popular pastime for my old man and other anglers in the know.
When he was a kid, my dad would mix Wheaties and water to make a dough bait that he claims both hammers carp and stays securely to your hook. Apparently, the Wheat base helps your bait set like glue on the hook while putting off a flavor and profile carp love. He also said if you forget to take your bait off the hook at the end of the day, you’ll need a hammer to remove it the next time you go out.
These fish can also be found in nearly every river and lake in the United States. Minnows, worms and crawfish are three favorite foods of freshwater drum. Just sink a nightcrawler to the bottom on a big river such as the Mississippi, Wisconsin, or Ohio and you are bound to catch a drum. Bluffs and any rocky banks on lakes are prime targets to drop bait for drum. I have also caught plenty of drum on crappie and bass jigs and crankbaits.
This prehistoric-looking fish fights with the same jumping and diving feats of a bass. Bowfin thrive in swamplands and slow-moving waters of rivers and lakes. They eat anything they can find in the water including minnows, shad, crustaceans, amphibians and worms. These aggressive feeders will also smash spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs and just about any other lure you throw in front of them.
Be careful when handling a bowfin, they’re supringsly strong, slippery as heck, and wear a gnarley set of chompers.
These powerful fish also live in many creeks, rivers and lakes throughout our country. When hooked, these hard-fighting fish will provide the best freshwater imitation of a jumping tarpon. Some of the best spots for targeting gar are oxbow lakes, dam tailwaters, backwater pools and shallow areas near wood and weed cover. A minnow set below a bobber is a surefire way to catch a gar, but the most fun way to catch them is to throw a topwater lure or suspending jerkbait to surfacing fish.
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