Beat the Fish
Enjoy the competition
By Rob Wenning
Whether you are fishing a tournament as a professional, an amateur or out on the lake with your best buddy, focus on beating the fish to gain the upper hand. Enjoy and learn from the competition but for goodness sake, stop worrying about who you beat. When we loose sight of the fact we are out there to beat the fish, and focus on what everyone else is doing or has done in the past, we stop adjusting to the conditions and minimize our catch. Our sport is very unique, no two fishermen attack the conditions the same and those conditions change by the minute even on the same body of water. Someone once likened our sport to a golfer trying to play blindfolded.
So often I hear people say they saw Joe Bass fishing and he always uses specific bait, sometimes they are convinced Joe Bass only uses a specific color as well. Unfortunately for those fishermen, they try to make Joe Bass's bait work when the conditions are dictating something completely different, typically resulting in wasted effort and frustration. That is very different from an angler who saw a specific bait in his or her mind because they recognized a condition change, a change in the environment that affects fish.
I am often asked what makes the Best fisherman so good. Are they that much better than I? The reality is they are much better but not necessarily in the physical skills of fishing more likely in the skills of listening. Listening to what the fish are saying or what Mother Nature is whispering. Being aware of the slightest changes in the environment, a minnow being sucked off the surface 100 feet away, current being created by boat traffic, shade from a rock 20 feet deep, and so on. Those changes that affect the behavior of the fish are not so easily learned, we can read about some of them but the confounding effect of several factors at a time can only be learned by time on the water. And yes there lies the greatest difference in the Best of the Best, time on the water, time spent looking for clues, voices from Mother Nature that force adjustments.
A few of the commonly overlooked changes are:
Birds: often the most visual clue, they will point you to the bait fish. Remember birds are out there feeding to survive. Wind: most fishermen know it will position fish but most fishermen will not fish in the wind because it is challenging or simply a pain to hold boat position cast and feel a strike. With practice (time on the water) most of those pains can be overcome. Sunny days: another great fish positioning factor that again we all know but often fail to focus on. As I mentioned above the shade that is created by the sun can be an advantage as deep as the light penetrated the water. Positioning fish to a very limited space can often result in great reaction bites. As an example, I target shallow shade pockets in the middle of the summer looking for a reaction bite, a fast moving buzz bait violating that space can result in big fish. Boat traffic: a factor we all need to recognize and adjust for as the lakes are getting smaller and smaller with the recreational boating today. But that is not always a bad thing, knowing what the fish are doing in the midst of this will help target a location. Typically a location very close to the area like a deeper break or heavy weeds/brush will be a retreat for the fish.
Understanding these conditions, focusing on the environment not the other anglers can propel you into the "Zone". Being in the "Zone" is one of the greatest feelings we can experience as serious fisherman. Far greater than catching a single big fish it is actually knowing what the fish are doing, knowing where to cast and being confident you just made the correct adjustment. That adjustment might not work but in the "Zone", it is a positive action to your next cast as opposed to another failed attempt. If you break down the "Zone" you realize your skills to cast have not improved that much rather you skills to analyze the body of water, feel the strike, visualize the movements of the fish, see/smell/feel the change in weather conditions and be very positive about all your actions.
So, to summarize, I suggest the next time out on the water, tell yourself you are not going to be concerned with what anyone else is doing and let you senses work for you.
Thanks for logging on, keep those hooks sharp and those eyes even sharper.
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