Anglers are catching more fish more often. Due to an abundance of magazine articles, television shows, YouTube videos, fishing seminars, and advances in technology, we’ve learned how to be more successful in our fishing. We’ve learned that fish do different things during different seasons. Sometimes they’re in deep water, other times they’re in the shallows. Sometimes they like a slow moving bait, other times they like it fast. Anglers can have an idea where the fish might be and what type of lure that they might respond to best during a particular season, but there are times when the fish don’t do what we think they should be doing. No matter how much we think we know about catching fish, there are times when the fish don’t play by the rules.
Here is a very good example of fish doing the unexpected. We were fishing for walleyes on a lake that had depths in excess of a hundred feet and lots of underwater structure. The common thought was that on lakes like this, the walleyes would be near the bottom on structure in the summer. But this body of water had baitfish that lived near the surface over the deep water in the summer. That’s where they were when we visited. And since that’s where the baitfish were, that’s where the walleyes were. We could see walleye marks on the sonar under the baitfish about ten feet below the boat. We tied on crankbaits that ran about eight feet below the surface. We caught walleyes. Lots of’em, and some big ones. Since that time, we’ve been catching walleyes in places where they weren’t supposed to be, or at least not where we expected them to be.
Another good learning experience on that same trip: Much of the time in the summer, the fish prefer larger baits. When the fish are hitting a particular size really well, if you go bigger, you’ll catch bigger fish. We were using #5 Salmo Hornets. They’re an outstanding walleye bait, but they’re on the small side. We tried bigger baits. No luck. The walleyes wanted the smaller size. There have been many times on summer fishing trips when we went bigger and did better, but on this day, they wanted that smaller bait. Another rule violation on the walleyes.
Last rule infraction for now. This one’s on largemouth bass. It was late spring and the bass were supposed to be shallow. We positioned the boat a long cast from the shoreline of a large bay and started casting Shim-E-Sticks rigged Wacky Style. This is a slow presentation that often works well in the shallows. After lots of casting and few hooksets, the guy in the back of the boat made a cast to the other side of the boat toward the middle of the bay. The bass weren’t expected to be there, but they were. Apparently they were holding out there before moving to the shallows. Once we found’em, we caught’em.
The more we learn about catching fish, the more we realize there’s more to learn. Fish respond in a particular way until they respond differently. They get conditioned to colors, presentations, and other factors. If we want to catch more fish, we need to continue to experiment with different lures, presentations, and locations. When we start doing that, we become better anglers.
PHOTO CAPTION-Mike Frisch with a largemouth bass that was where it shouldn’t have been.
By – Bob Jensen