Monday, September 26, 2016

Fishing or actually catching? Taking it to the next level - Part 2

Was a tough day due to muddy water,
but still managed to catch something!

Click here to read Part 1

Fishing can be a very easy past time.  You put a lure on your line and throw it in the water.  
For many fishing means putting a bobber and a worm on your line, throwing it in the water and waiting.  This is nice for that person who needs a stress reliever and is tired from working hard.  For those of us who work hard at sitting in an office chair, we need something more physically challenging.

Enter the sport of catching fish. This concept takes fishing to a completely different level that requires us to use our brains and try our best to outsmart a fish.

In this multi-piece article I will share with you some of the ways I find fish. If you are an armchair-fisherman and you want to take your game to the next level, the info here should help you do just that.
In the last article, we discussed some of the equipment you'll need to get started in the past time of fooling fish.

To recap the basic hardware:
- A Light Spinning rod.
- A spinning reel to match.
- 15lb braided line.
- A white Spinner bait, a white Buzz Bait, and a bag of 4 inch "Watermelon" Senko Worm.

Now, I should say that your mileage may vary.  What I mean by that is every angler has a different method and to some extent you'll need to fine tune the equipment to fit your needs. For instance, for the guy who is graduating from everyday bass to looking only for the largest bass, you'll want to increase the sizes on your tackle. But for the guy just getting started, you'll want to start with what you see above since it works well and is more forgiving of mistakes.

Note to the newbies: A lot of new bass fishermen start out with heavier tackle than they need since they think they need to think big. This is pretty much the opposite of what they should be doing.  Big fish are hard to find if you don't know the tricks. They spook easy and they are very temperamental. It's entirely possible to go a a lifetime without catching an 8 pound bass. Plus, you need to learn to catch any bass first, once you've got that down, then you can start to transition to bass that require a special touch to win the day.  Until then, start small and work your way up.

Measuring a fish for the Yaktribe Tournament.
So how do you catch bass?

Bass are some of the worst temperamental fish you'll find. While rainbow trout are really picky about taking a fly, I've heard stories of fly fishermen catching the same trout several times in a row.  Not so with most bass.  It's got to be a special day when you catch the same bass twice. I'm not sure it's ever happened to me. Once a bass is caught, it's pretty much too psyched out for the rest of the day to eat again.  At least if it does, you won't catch it on the same lure again any time soon!

And there's the rub.  Bass also have good memories.  They remember what kind of food they eat.  It might take a couple times, but they eventually learn what a particular lure looks like and they ignore it from then on. So here is where you've either got to throw something that's hard for them to learn, or you've got to get them to bite something because they can't help themselves.

Remember I said temperamental?  Well, it gets worse. Bass often won't bite when the water is too warm. They practically won't bite at all when the water is too cold. And they certainly won't bite if there's any random noise or unusual commotion nearby. In fact, bass are known to be so particular that once they've seen you, even if you don't disturb them, they won't bite for a good 20 minutes while they try to figure out what they saw.  We call this "Spooking the bass".

If you're like most aspiring bass fishermen, you've already read many articles on how to catch bass. You've watched many YouTube videos and you said to yourself "I can do this!" and then you went and bought yourself some lures like the guy on the video and then tried it yourself. But, undoubtedly you sat there all day and never got a bite, or you caught one fish in 6 hours while the boat next to you was reeling them in all day long.

How in the world do you catch these things then?

It is most definitely possible! I've been in that "no catch to release" boat many times when I was starting out - less than 5 years ago - so I hope to be able to shed some light on the secrets.

There are several things that affect catching fish.

Here's the order I think of when planning trip:
  • Weather
  • Location
  • Presentation
  • Lure type
Notice I said *planning* a trip.  Yes, I can't stress enough that you don't just take off and go fishing when you are first starting.  You better sit yourself down in front of the computer and start doing some planning.  There are many things that go into the planning part of it that pro's can't tell you because they know this stuff by heart.  And they also know how to adjust their style on the fly to "match the hatch".  But you aren't there yet.  So follow along and learn the tricks first, then you can start running off without planning and still have a fairly good day. Or you can ignore this part and keep being skunked, time after time.  :)

The weather is the single most important thing that many fishermen miss when getting ready to go fishing. What the weather is doing is going to affect your fishing so much that it's either going to make or break your day. Learning to read the weather is going to make a huge difference on your ability to catch fish. This is not to say that you shouldn't go fishing any chance you get, but that you realize the limitations and adjust your fishing to match what the weather is doing.

Now, when I talk about weather, I'm including all factors of weather that the *FISH* sees.  Bass are temperamental. I said that right?  Think about what the bass does all day - they swim in water.  Imagine yourself in the water all day, aside from the raisin skin, you'd start to realize when the weather changes there will be better places to be.  Yep, you guessed it, I'm talking about water temperature.

Sometimes the best way to sneak up on fish is on foot.
Bass like water temperature about the same as what most people like their houses.  Right around 72 degrees.  Some like it warmer, some like it cooler.  And a lot of that has to do with age.  Old ladies and children like the temperature warmer.  Bass are the same way.

So what! Right?  Wrong!  This means everything about your planning.

Here are some scenarios to think about:

Scenario 1:  It's a fall day. A cold front went through a day or so ago and the weather forecast for tomorrow is "Mostly sunny, high around 70, calm winds".

Wow!  An awesome fishing day, right!   ----WRONG.  These are some of the worst days for new bass fishermen.  Yes, I'll still go fishing on these days, but I go knowing there's a good chance I'm going to be skunked, even as an experienced "only get skunked once a year go fishing every week" kind of angler.  Go ahead and knock yourself out... but for the most part I'll stay home on these days and do my blogging or read up on some aspect of fishing I'm not as familiar with (Or just work on the honey-do list!)

Scenario 2: It's fall and there's a cold front forecast to come through around 4 pm tomorrow.  The air temp is around 75 degrees and there's a pretty good chance of rain when the front goes through. The wind is going to be brutal at 20-25 mph gusts.

OK, I'm ready to go, let's hit this!  Wait, what?  These can be some of the best days for fishing. It's fall, so the bass are in the fall feeding mode. They are stocking up for those week long periods in the winter when the water is too cold to even move, let alone go searching for food. This time of year is "creature time" when the bass are looking for little animals to be falling in the water.  They are likely to strike at anything that moves.  Also, even with those heavy winds, there will be calm areas around the shore, especially at dawn and near dusk.  Of course, I won't blame you for heading in when that cold front gets close, fighting a storm and fishing just ain't my cup of tea either.

Scenario 3: It's fall, a cold front went through a few days ago, the temperature has moderated to a comfortable 70 degrees, a south wind is gently blowing around 10 mph, and a cold front is predicted on Monday.

DUDE, get your butt in the boat and go RIGHT NOW.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200. GO! Seriously.  I can't stress enough about the rule of "the day before the day before the storm". If that kind of day comes your way, don't squander it. Start early in the morning so you can get that buzzbait going in the calmer waters. Or any other topwater for that matter.  Then switch to the spinner bait about the time the water starts to get more choppy. Maybe even go for the worm or even a crawfish bait (especially if the bottom is rocky!).  These are the times fishermen dream of. At some point on this day, there will be fish caught - much fish. Be there.

This one was caught on a beautiful day when nothing was biting...
except this one!
Oh and by the way, that rule up there about "the day before the day before the storm"?  It works for saltwater too. In fact a lot of these same rules work for saltwater. Especially fish like Red Fish / Red Drum or Speckled Trout. Top water is the same rule for those guys, and believe me, it works.

One other less significant weather factor that I haven't discussed - the solunar calendar. Some anglers pay no attention to this and they're probably fine without. But I'll say this about scenario 1 above, if the solunar calendar says it's going to be a good day and the sky is pretty and weather is calm? I'll still go since it's possible that the fish will be feeding - especially if it's fall or spring.  The long dog days of summer are harder to read, but generally in the summer you want to go out early and leave before noon.

There are a few more things that you'll need to learn about fish weather, such as the underwater weather. Fish are pretty particular, as you would be, about where they live and that often changes throughout the day.  I'll focus on this a little more in the next section.

Keep an eye on the sky when planning your trips and you should see an improvement in your fishing right away!

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this 4 part series!

Tight Lines Y'all!


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