Tips to use when going wade fishing

Water, water everywhere, and lots of places to fish.

The high water levels on many North Texas lakes give anglers with boats plenty of places to search out bass and other game fish, but is a boat really necessary?

Absolutely not.

For a really cool way to fish this fall, put on a pair of old tennis shoes or wading shoes and step right up to - and into - a lake near you.

Wade fishing can be fun, productive, inexpensive and a great way to fish waters that are often unreachable by boat.

Plus, early fall is a great time to catch largemouth bass in shallow water. Falling water temperatures trigger baitfish movement in the shallows, which triggers the predatory instincts of game fish such as largemouth bass. Waders can also catch other species, including channel catfish, sunfish and some sand bass.

Keys to successful fishing while wading are choosing an area with good fish habitat and working the area slowly.

Gearing up

You can splurge or you can keep it simple and not worry about your bank account springing a leak. For safety and convenience, take these few pieces of gear on your wade-fishing excursion:

- Needle-nose pliers: For pulling out hooks, bending hooks and more. $4-$15

- Pocketknife: Always handy. $8-$100-plus

- Rope-type stringer: As little as 69 cents for one for panfish or $5 or more for a heavier, longer one for larger fish.

- Fanny pack/belt pouch: Holds lures, hooks and other small gear; more expensive ones come with drink holders and more compartments. $6-$25

- Nail clippers: For cutting fishing line when changing lures. $2-$39 (Go cheap!)

- Wading shoes or boots: Some fine ones are available for $50-$200-plus, but my choice is a $10 pair of tennis shoes.

Tips from Bob

- Safety first: Before you enter a lake, make sure you know the locations of drop-offs such as creek channels, ledges or fast-sloping banks. Even when you think you know the area, don't take that for granted. When wading, slide your feet along the bottom or just off it. Don't ever take long steps.

- Protect the legs: Wear blue jeans, not shorts. You never know when you'll rub against a limb or something underwater that could cut or scratch you.

- Don't get hooked: Carry a good, sharp pocket knife and pair of pliers with a good cutting area in case you encounter an unmarked trotline, discarded fishing line or other obstacle.

- Fish friendly: Honor all properly set and marked trotlines, jug lines, limb lines and other legal fishing activity. Other anglers have the same rights you do.

Lures that lure

- Bass: The two most popular lures for wade fishing are plastic worms and spinner baits. Generally, a Texas-rigged plastic worm can be used to probe dense cover such as cattails, bull rushes, willows, salt cedars and similar growths - and to flip around stumps or worked over points and other structure. Spinner baits are ideal for fishing flats, edges of structure and even over the tops of underwater weeds. Another good choice is a buzz bait for shallow waters.

- Panfish: Earthworms, bacon, grasshoppers and commercial dough-type baits are good choices.

- Channel catfish: Punch bait, minnows, grasshoppers, chicken livers and shrimp are excellent baits.