By RALPH BARTHOLDT
In the late morning on East Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, sunshine blankets the inside of pickup trucks parked alongside Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop and Guide Service.
It makes ceramic coffee cups left on dashboards too hot to touch.
Inside the shop, a menagerie of unflappable fish catchers and former anglers idles at the counter.
Someone mentions the temperature: 84 degrees.
In heat like this, the fish move to deeper water as the day progresses and visitors to the shop ask how to catch them.
Jordan Smith, who runs the place, has an idea.
The top-selling gear today, he says, are plastic worms and the hooks that hold them.
“Mostly, right now, it’s bass, or pike fishing,” Smith said.
Senko worms are a big seller. They are impregnated with salt and when Texas-rigged with a sliding bullet sinker they can be bounced along weed beds for largemouth bass.
“You can use a slip sinker, or no weight,” Smith said.
“Wacky rigging” a worm means slipping a hook into the middle of the plastic worm, and fishing it without a sinker.
“It’s not weedless, but it gives them a different presentation,” he said.
Use a jig worm for smallmouths — a lot of anglers are buying the plastic, twin tail worms, or grubs — with a ¼-ounce jig head. Fish it along rocky shorelines or points to catch smallmouth bass, Smith tells a customer.
Pike anglers are using big, topwater spinners that are dragged over weed beds. The pike nestled in the grass looking to ambush prey will rise up out of the weeds to crash a spinner.
“You start reeling as soon as they hit the water,” Smith said. “Don’t let it sink too much, or you’ll be pulling weeds off of it.”
Use worms hooked for bass, and big spinners in chartreuse, white, orange and brown for toothy pike, he reiterates.
“Those are the main things going right now,” Smith said.
Fresh off a Spirit Lake bass tournament win, Jess Pottenger, who works in the Black Sheep fishing department has the same advice, but prefers a different brand: He likes Strike King worms hooked wacky-style, weightless or Texas-rigged.
When the sun comes up, and bass are still tucked into the shallower water, feeding on crawfish or baitfish, Pottenger recommends tying on a Heddon Spook.
“Those work really well in the early morning for smallmouth and largemouth,” said Pottenger, who was part of the three-person team that won this month’s adult youth angler (AYA) bass tournament in Spirit Lake, snagging a boat and motor as a prize.
The Spook is called a walking bait because it moves across the surface back and forth like a bird dog creating the kind of commotion that spurs fish to bite.
Blake Becker, a bass angler and owner of Becker’s Tackle in Coeur d’Alene tested the plastic worm theory on Lake Coeur d’Alene earlier this week when the weather turned hot.
He was among anglers to agree with his peers that plastic worms and top water rigs work best in midsummer depending on the time of day.
Becker’s favorite set-up is a ¼-ounce drop shot sinker fished under a 6-inch floating Roboworm in colors ranging from perch, black, green or pumpkin.
“It’s a great setup,” Becker said.
He caught two bass more than 5 pounds this week in different water at different times of day using the drop shot.
One of the smallmouths was caught in 2 feet of water in the morning, and the other was caught midday in 30 feet of water.
“The early morning bite remains good as long as the heat is there,” he said.