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Monday, March 22, 2010

• Move or Stay? An Undeniably Difficult Question.

Admittedly, I'm no tournament angler, so this post may not come across in a way that speaks to those of you who chase after limits and paychecks. When I go fishing, part of my time on the water is spent observing and learning. The rest is dedicated to relaxation. Despite my more recreational disposition, I often find myself questioning decisions I made on the water after my day has come to a close, just as any tournament angler might. I often wonder well after the fact whether I should have continued fishing a spot or sought out better prospects elsewhere.

Move or stay put. I'm fairly certain every angler can relate to the predicament, even those who fish from the bank. The decision is not an easy one to make, whether you're new to the sport or a seasoned veteran.

In 2009, I became much more of a pattern style angler and not so much confidence bait and location oriented. Whether or not I can establish a pattern is a whole different can of worms, but in the midst of figuring out what the fish want, sometimes the best decision is to try somewhere new. Other times, it can be very tempting to stay put. Everything we know about bass behavior tells us where fish should be, but that is not always the case. Very few anglers have a good grasp on this concept. In fact, KVD is well known by many in the sport for having a tenacious strategy and few can replicate his style of prefishing successfully. Personally, I don't think I could spend a few minutes in one spot and then jet off to a new one, but I could definitely take on the notion of wasting less time fishing one area and spreading my efforts around a bit. Of course, I'm oversimplifying KVD's approach, but the essence of his example rests on one key point. The approach should be systematic, not erratic. The difference is where both knowledge and confidence enters the picture. While also true of my experiences in a hospital setting, for whatever reason, I cannot consistently incorporate the same level of focus in bass fishing. Of course, I would also argue that many of our area lakes are not at their prime and heavily pressured to boot.

For instance, take a recent outing on Caddo Lake.

I spent the better part of my trip picking apart trees and moving along a familiar section of the lake. To be clear, I wasn't alone out there. Several boats were fishing the exact same way, with the exact same pace, and with the exact same looks on their faces. From where I stood, it was apparent none of us had a clue. I moved. The decision came late, but I made it nonetheless. But perhaps it was already too late.

Once I got to where I was going, I landed a fish in the first few casts. With a new found sense of accomplishment, I went back into search mode, but I think I got stuck in that mindset. I couldn't find another bite over the entire stretch, yet I refused to scrap the spot. It was entirely possible that other fish were near where I caught the one, but switching off to other more meticulous techniques did not produce anything. The drive home was spent listening to music and wondering where else I could have gone on that lake. Maybe I spent too much time in one area. Moving should have been a decision early on in the trip, not late in the day.

The choices are infinite. Slow down. Speed up. Small changes. Color changes. Weight changes. Subtle changes. Bold changes. None involve moving to a new spot. That's the trap we set for ourselves. Most of us generally do not exhaust all of these options, but I'm sure you've thrown everything in the box at them at least once in your life. We usually resolve to pull up the trolling motor and race to another spot, but not before we rationalize falling back on our comfort zone.

There are so many variables involved in fishing and no matter how many changes you make, putting yourself on fish is not guaranteed. It could all boil down to mood. Maybe the bass just aren't wanting to bite that day. Maybe they've gorged themselves on baitfish. Perhaps you missed the rush of fish into a feeding area and they were all sitting out beyond a break. Another angler could have just fished the spot and you came in after they cleaned up. Not to draw another correlation with my career, but saying "I don't know" is nothing to be ashamed of. Quite often, anglers just don't know what the fish are doing. Don't let it get to you.

If fishing were that easy…well, hopefully you get my point.

At the core, what it comes down to is having confidence in yourself and your abilities. While I'm not a tournament angler, when I see numerous other boats on the water, in my mind, I am thinking that somebody has to be catching something out there. That temporary feeling is more a kick in the gut than a helpful push in the right direction, but it should not get to me. The more time I spend learning a lake, the more comfortable I am with making the decision whether or not to move. It doesn't always produce, but it does not break me either.

A similar article by Tom Redington
lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles/mar2010.htm

7 comments:

Basspastor said...

excellent read. I'm going to link to it.

MNAngler said...

I have the exact opposite problem. The anglers I fish with tend to always keep moving. One trolls while I cast and the other is what I call a gypsy. He rarely sits in one spot. Unfortunately, both control the motors, so I'm stuck traveling even when we find fish.

This year I hope to get out on my own more often to try more presentation options.

fishcraze said...

Excellent read! Every trip comes with decisions and what ifs and what could have been :)

fish on
Danny

Clif said...

I have always thought there is a fine line between being patient and being stubborn. Maybe there is more to it.

Tami Curtis Jennings said...

How true is that! Nice post.

James said...

I believe that excluding the spawn that bass are nomads, they are feeding on shad and the shad are constantly moving with the weather conditions, so I like to cover water.

I pick 4 or 5 rods and tie on baits that should be effective for the conditions of that day. Throw each lure for 30 minutes and keep moving. Usually a pattern will emerge of where the bass are and what the bass want.

I think part of KVD's success (excluding the Classic) is he has the ability to cover allot of water and fish slow when he comes to an area that contains fish.

BassFishingDem said...

That's where your experience and many other's differ. Quite often, a pattern does not emerge. Frustration ensues. In my case, a meticulous approach might end up drawing out a fish, but that reinforces a behavior that may not be suitable on a larger scale.

That's why the decision is not a simple one. There is no guarantee the strategy will work. It's easy to suggest it and yes, it makes perfect sense to adhere to such an approach, but in practice, we goose egg.

Thanks for all the comments.