Dams can provide great ultralight fishing experiences. For starters, a large dam will often act as a barrier that prevents fish from going any further upstream. Dams also create deep water that is full of oxygen, which is great for producing large fish. There also tends to be a lot of food for fish to eat at the base of a dam. This means that the base of a dam can be a great place to locate large fish, but dam fishing is not without its difficulties. Dams often receive a lot of fishing pressure, meaning fish might be wise to most ultralight fishing techniques and difficult to hook. Also, dams can sometimes release water very quickly, meaning that all fishermen who are near a dam should be aware of the potential of fast rises in water.
Where to Fish a Dam
The best places to fish the base of a dam are going to be where the water is the fastest and deepest. Odds are the fish will be actively feeding in these areas. Use a fast moving bait designed for actively feeding fish, such as crankbaits, inline spinning lures and soft plastic lures. Live minnows and other baits also work well in these situations. Fish like the current because it brings them food, but they also don’t want to waste too much of their energy constantly fighting it. This means that spots that provide cover from the current but still allow the fish to access the food the current brings them are going to hold the largest lunkers. Examples of these features could include where slow and fast water meets, where a log has fallen in the water or behind large boulders in the current. Fish above, below, and next to these features to lure out the big boys. Bait works especially well in the transition zones between slow and fast water.
Other Places to Fish
Another good place to locate fish near a dam is in the first deep pool that you can find downstream of the dam. This spot provides an area of protection for fish when they are not actively feeding. You will find fish resting in these deeper pools. They can be very productive during a cold front. Because these fish are resting they will not be actively feeding, so your fishing tactics should be different. You can use a scented bait or soft plastic to encourage the fish to bite. This ultralight fishing technique requires that you allow your lure or bait to very slowly drop down into the hole. The lure or bait should slowly drift along with the current, bouncing along the bottom occasionally. You may let it sit in a single spot for a few minutes before letting it continue to slowly drift. The idea is to create an enticing food offer that sits directly in front of the fish’s face, until they can’t resist eating it. Then you hook them.
The slow technique is often effective for getting resting fish to eat your bait or lure, but you can also create an aggressive reaction strike to get a fish to take your hook. The idea behind this technique is to present something so enticing to a fish that it provokes a reaction strike, regardless of whether or not the fish is actually hungry. You will typically use a lure that moves quickly and gathers a lot of attention from the fish. A fast moving spinner bait for example will often get a fish’s attention and cause them to strike it before they even get a chance to think about if they should attack it. They only have a second to react, and often they make the wrong choice. When they do you set the hook on them.
Dam fishing can be extremely productive and exciting for ultralight fishing enthusiasts when the proper fishing techniques are used.