Build Your Tacklebox… and Then Think Outside of It
article by Kenny Covington
Most fishermen, bass fishermen especially, are a particular and peculiar bunch. As much detail that we put into preparing for a tournament or a weekend outing, you would think we would win or load the boat full of fish every time we go. So many times that just isn’t the case, as anyone who has ever wet a line will attest, even the best made plans can go awry.
The old adage of “you can’t see the forest for the trees” can be applied to bass fishing as well. As fishermen, we become very set in our ways, often times fishing past memories and lures that we have so much confidence in that it isn’t until the day has passed and the lack of fish in the boat that makes us realize our error in judgment. You can’t make fish bite the way you want them to. It doesn’t matter how good you think you are, the fish will have the final word.
I was asked recently by a young angler what I thought the key to being a good fisherman was. I thought for a moment and I told him, “Learn as much as you can and be on the water as often as you can. Read and do your research on techniques, study weather patterns and fish behaviors but whatever you do, never ever stop learning.” And then I added, “Also, remember this one thing – don’t be afraid of taking all of the things that ‘should work’ and throw them out and start from scratch so that you allow yourself to find what does work.” Think outside of the tacklebox.
Every fisherman has their favorite color soft plastic, a topwater, crankbait or any other lure you can think of. It is the success with these baits that has built such an enormous amount of confidence that the angler sees no need to use or try something else. However, with a tweak here or a subtle change there a bad day can turn into a great one.
So what do I mean by subtle changes and thinking outside of the tacklebox? First it requires an open minded approach to fishing. Catching fish is easy, it’s the locating them that is the hardest part and requires the right mental attitude. The number one lure in your tacklebox is confidence. This can’t be over looked or under estimated.
Lure choices can be complicated but always start with those that have brought you past successes. If it is Spring, Summer or Fall, then you can probably get away with picking moving lures such as topwater, spinnerbaits or crankbaits to start with. If it is a winter scenario, then you naturally will choose lures such as a jig or a Carolina rig that are mostly bottom related. Before we have even launched our boat, we have already established potential ways to locate and catch bass no matter the season.
Here are some examples of what I am referring to as thinking outside of the (tackle) box. Let’s say you are fishing down a 300 yard section of bank that is covered with laydowns, scattered stumps and logs. For the past few fishing trips you have been catching fish on a spinnerbait, but your first pass down the bank this particular morning, you catch one small bass. Your mind starts working. Did the fish leave? Did you catch the majority of them? All these scenarios will run through your mind. But rarely does it even occur to the fishermen that maybe a simple change of lures, or presentation with the one being thrown, is all that is needed to trigger the fish to start biting again.
Instead of throwing a spinnerbait, why not switch to a shallow crankbait? If a front pushed through maybe slowing down with a Texas rigged worm or a small Carolina rigged worm? These aren’t drastic changes, just simple adjustments. Often times the fishermen move around more than the fish do. Change your tactics before you change your locations.
Fish get conditioned to seeing the same lures time after time. One of the quickest they get used to seeing and become leery of is a buzzbait. When the fish start slapping at a buzzbait or missing on the strike of it that is when it is a good time to switch to a topwater prop bait such as a Crazy Shad or a Devil’s Horse. You are simply making the same presentation but with enough of a change to pick the bite back up.
The science of bass fishing is fascinating. There is no substitute for time on the water but there is also no set rules when it comes to the different techniques used to catch these awesome fish. Hopefully this month we were able to look at things from a different perspective and it will allow you to become more successful on the water.
Be careful in the outdoors this Fall, catch one for me and I will see you next month!