Square Peg…….Round Hole!
Each time we head out, we do so with a series of preconcieved notions and a game plan of varying degrees of complexity. Often, we find a different reality from the glamorized notion we had positioned in our noggin.
Recently, it occurred to me that many times I have a square peg into a round hole hard head approach. I headed out fishing with a good friend of mine, Ray Montes, and we were fishing somewhere he had previously been very successful. I had never fished the area. I had, though, scouted it virtually via satellite photo and bathymetry data. I had found success in the nearby lakes, in these same conditions with something compeletly different than most would fish.
I had already decided how and what I was fishing. So, we shoved off in the middle of a cold front, early April, after an unseasonably long warming trend. The lake had a mix of deep and shallow water, good wood laydowns and very little vegatation. Ray began to plink the wood with well placed casts alternating between a soft plastic stick bait and a mid-sized, lightly weighted creature bait.
I flipped a soft plastic swimming fluke and slow rolled it through the tree tops. I intermittently made long, search casts with a tandem Colorado/Willow spinnerbait, also slow rolled. I hit various angles to give the fish different “looks” at the baits for a half hour and nada, zilch, zip. Ray caught two.
I continued the same routine while varying depth, speed, angle and placement. Nothing. Ray caught another.
I knew that I could tie on a creature bait or stick bait and catch fish. I knew that the crawfish imitation tied on in the rod just over my shoulder would produce. Oh yeah, and Ray caught another. What the hell was I doing then you might ask. You might say that I was attempting to force the square peg into the round hole. You may think I was trying to force the bite. At times, both of these are true.
In my approach to fishing, there are two absolutes. Knowing and learning. Even when you “know” then you are still able to learn from it. Here is what I mean. If I abosolutely know that something will work, then I will usually fish something different. I know that sounds crazy, so bear with me a bit. Learning is where you make break throughs, where you develop the next “knowing” and where you add depth to your mental arsenal. Making adjustments is the key to success out on the water more often than not.
Here is where it comes together for me. Edges are something that all anglers relate to for structure and cover, rip lines, current seams and other physical features. However, most of us don’t consider the edges of pattern development. I try to work hard to determine those edges so that I can be the person catching fish a certain way before everyone else is doing the same thing. How early can I get them to hit topwater? How cold can I get one to eat a spinnerbait? How fast can I swim a jig and still get bit? How fast or slow can I work the frog?
I often fish with friends that go directly to the presentation that they know will work. It does. They remark, “What’s wrong man, I thought you were supposed to be a pro or something?” I smile and cast. They catch another and usually offer a follow up remark, “I’m putting it on you now….” or something similar. I cast and smile. You see, while they are casting and catching, they are also confirming that presentation is working. I don’t need to at that point. I go on fishing trips, I go on catching trips and I go on learning trips.
Fishing with a friend often starts as a fishing trip, then turns into a catching trip. I like to make them learning trips as much as possible. With two anglers swinging away, you can duplicate your efforts. Watch their presentation. Pay attention to their cadence, the action they impart and the angles. You can often see a pattern in them, before they will see it themselves. Share this info- or don’t. It is all learning.
Next time you head out, spend a little time thinking about and looking for that edge. Finding the edge first is way more fun. Success in the long run is measured by more than the biggest fish or the end of day tally. By the way, you can fit a square peg into a round hole, you just need a bigger hole!
Get out there and HOOK 1 – Chad!