With the chill of winter in the air and holiday season upon us, many anglers have left the chilly waterways for the comfort of their heated homes.
But just because the fishing has cooled off a bit, that doesn’t mean you have to go without all winter.
Aside from fishing at the heated dock at Lake Shawnee or giving ice fishing a try, anglers can scratch their fishing itch digitally with Rapala’s new fishing game, “Rapala Fishing Pro Series,” available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The game provides a fun, arcade style of fishing that is filled with fast action, big fish and even online tournaments for those with a competitive streak. Better yet, at $29.99, it’s a relatively inexpensive purchase by video game standards.
Aside from being entertaining, it’s also educational, as the equipment in the games comes straight out of the Rapala product guide and includes tips on how to fish each lure and what works best for each species of fish.
There’s a surprisingly large diversity of species in this game, as many of the fishing games I played in the past had a habit of sticking to two or three species at most. This game includes largemouth and smallmouth bass, black and white crappie, walleye, Northern pike, walleye, rainbow trout, bluegill and more. There are specific goals on each lake that you can complete to earn money so you can upgrade your equipment, and the goals do a good job of getting each species of fish represented (Example: “Catch 10 walleye” or “Catch three bluegill in five minutes”). It makes each lure an important tool in your tackle box, so you will need to learn how to master them.
Each lure has a special retrieve that you must figure out to draw out get the most out of its action. The first lure you fish with, the Rapala Original Floater, has a pattern of “Left, Right, Left, Right” that moves it exactly like how you would work the lure in open water.
I don’t love that the battle system when you’re fighting to get the fish in, but it is nice to see Rapala take a chance and do something new with their games. The battle takes place underwater, and you must keep your fish within a certain area to prevent your line from snapping and to get short boosts to the speed of your retrieval. I personally prefer more of a simulation style like you see in “Euro Fishing,” the “Reel Fishing” games or “Fishing Planet,” which I will review in a future column, where you are battling the fish from the viewpoint of the angler and you don’t know how big the fish is or what kind it is until you get it to shore or in the boat. It’s more realistic to me and feels more natural, but I can also see why people would like the intense underwater battles of the arcade style, like what you would see in the old “Sega Bass Fishing” game that everyone who ever went to Chuck E. Cheese’s as a kid has played at least once.
The game also features real lakes and, while the graphics aren’t nearly as crisp as “Fishing Planet,” they are lightyears ahead of the first fishing games I ever played — namely “TNN Outdoors Bass Tournament ’96” for the Sega Genesis and the old handheld Tiger Electronics fishing games — and I spent hours playing those games.
Still would, probably.
TROUT TRICKS: Ruben Ramirez sent me an email last weekend asking me a few questions about the column I wrote about my experiences rainbow trout fishing at Lake Shawnee. Namely, he wanted to know what size of tackle I was using. I was fishing with a 3 1/2-inch, neon pink Z-Man GrubZ on a 1/15th-ounce ShroomZ jig head. As I told Ruben, I think in the future I will try going with a little bit of a smaller GrubZ — likely the 2 1/2- or even 2-inch grub — as I think the trout will be less spooked by the smaller profile.
I believe that the Little Cleo I used to catch my first trout was a 1/6th-ounce lure. I’ve also seen a few guys using flies with small bobbers attached to add some casting weight on their spinning rods. I tried a similar trick way back in high school, using a spinning rod with light line and tying a weight on with a wet fly attached to try to catch panfish in a spot where larger lures weren’t working as well.
The results were fantastic, and I caught several nice bluegill in the shallows as I lightly jerked the submerged fly back to me. The cool thing about using a small bobber as weight is it will allow the fly to stay afloat. Just be sure to give enough room between the bobber and fly so as not to spook the fish.
It’s unusual, but it works!