Questions for Ken

Do you have a question about fishing? Send it to espn@winnercomm.com
with Questions for Ken in the subject line and your name in the email.

Because of Ken's busy schedule, the volume of questions and the fact that he's out fishing a lot, he cannot reply personally nor answer every question. Before you send an email with a sport-fishing question, check out the inventory of Q&As already here. Perhaps your topic has been covered.

Ken will answer a number of questions here each month. Here's what's on his agenda this month (July 2006):

  • Best time for roosterfish

  • Best lure for pond bass

  • Marlin spot in July

  • Tackle for Canadian pike, walleye, lake trout

  • Trout and cold water

  • Figuring the age of fish

    Best time for roosterfish

    Question: When is the best time to go roosterfishing in Costa Rica?

    — Submitted by Ryan D.

    Answer: In most places where roosterfish are found, it seems that the best time to fish for them is during the warmest months.

    In Costa Rica, that is usually from June through September. So if you're interested in going this year, you'd better get planning right away. "Best" in this instance means that there is a good number of fish around. In Costa Rica, and elsewhere where roosters are found, there often are roosterfish around at other times of the year, but it can be hit or miss as to whether you catch them.

    Best lure for pond bass

    Q: What type of lure is best for bass in ponds at this time of year?

    — Submitted by Will H.

    A: That depends on so many things that I don't know where to start. Things like what part of the country you're in, what kind of pond or ponds you fish and how much cover and depth and structure they have. Let's make a few generalizations. If you're in the North, you can probably do well with spinnerbaits and shallow-running plugs. If you're in the South, you'll probably have success on surface plugs early and late in the day, and plastic worms during the day if it's a weedy pond. In the country's midsection, where bass are post-spawn and should be fairly active, there are many choices depending on the pond's features. No matter where you are, as the water warms you'll probably have to fish deeper and work shaded cover. Surface lures like popping plugs, buzzbaits and weedless frogs and rats will become more effective.

    Marlin spot in July

    Q: I would like to know where the best marlin fishing is in July. Four of us would like to go marlin fishing in the second week of July, if that is a good time.

    — Submitted by Joe M.

    A: For blue marlin that would probably be St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. You'd be hitting the full moon during that time, which might be prime. However, you're a little late in planning this and might find charter boats all booked. If so, look into fishing for striped marlin along the Baja Peninsula from East Cape to Loreto in Mexico.

    Tackle for Canadian pike, walleye, lake trout

    Q: I'm going to Canada for the first time this summer and am looking for suggestions on equipment for walleye, pike, and lake trout.

    — Submitted by Jason S.

    A: Tackle for Canadian walleye fishing is no different than that elsewhere. Spinning rods with a medium action and sensitive tip for detecting jig strikes are common, usually using 8-pound line. Longer rods are necessary for trolling, where baitcasting gear is preferable. Jigs, bottom-walking rigs, in-line spinners and assorted minnow-style plugs are the mainstays. For pike you can use baitcasting, spinning or fly gear, and an assortment of lures. Line needn't be ultra-heavy, but you should use a short, wire leader or heavy monofilament shock leader in case you hook a big fish that gets the lure inside of its mouth or crosses the line on its sharp teeth. Some of the better pike lures are large and thus require at least a medium-action rod for casting. Weedless spoons tipped with a plastic trailer, super-shallow-running plugs and spinnerbaits with bright-colored blades are top lures; but jigs, buzzbaits, bucktail spinners and plastic worms also are effective. Most veteran Canadian lake trout trollers use stout rods and 20-pound (minimum) line and large spoons (sometimes plugs). I've caught 35-pound lakers on 12-pound line and bass fishing rods; so the ultra-heavy stuff is overkill to me, but you be the judge. In some places you can catch small trout on streamers, dry flies and light spinning tackle with small spoons, spinners, and plugs.

    Trout and cold water

    Q: Can you explain why trout prefer cold water?

    — Submitted by Nicky J.

    A: The body temperature of most fish changes with the surrounding environment and is not constant as it is in mammals and birds. Like other animals, individual fish species have adapted to fill specific niches and are most comfortable within a specific temperature range. Trout are referred to as coldwater fish because their optimum environment contains cold and well-oxygenated water, usually under 60 degrees throughout the season; salmon, grayling, whitefish and ciscoes also are among this group. All of these species inhabit coldwater streams and generally infertile lakes; in lakes, deep environs must have cold, well-oxygenated water through the summer.

    Figuring the age of fish

    Q: Is there a way to figure out the age of a fish? I once saw a chart for stripers that showed age of years by length.

    — Submitted by Bill T.

    A: You might be able to get a chart for a particular species by contacting your own state fisheries agency. Age and length vary according to location and also are affected by the particular environment and food supply. Biologists primarily age fish by examining scales, which have annual growth rings, much like those on a tree; some are more difficult to read than others.

    For more information on angling, see Ken Schultz's Fishing Encyclopedia, available through www.kenschultz.com.