Itís easy to be successful at fishing. All you have to do is go. Plus, it sure beats working.
Catching, well thatís another matter. While just tossing a line out will occasionally produce a few fish, with a little effort you can increase your chances of success. At least thatís what Iíve been telling myself the last few evenings at Horsetooth.
My motivation is simple, after blanking in the last two club level tournaments my goal is to actually ďweighĒ (card) a fish. Getting out fished doesnít bother me, getting skunked bugs me a lot.
I still remember my first bass tournament at Lake Powell. Iíd fished hard for two days. Everyone struggled, but at the end of first day many weighed fish and I wasnít one of them. Day two I put a couple bass in the live well. My boater jettisoned his fish as he knew he wasnít going to place anyway. I wasnít going to either, but that didnít matter. I weighed my two fish, just to show I that, I too, could catch a bass.
So, to avoid a triple encounter with the black and white kitty, Iíve been putting in some time at the Tooth in order to piece together a pattern. My strategy is simple, fish similar hours as the tournament, work as much of the reservoir as possible, and fish a lot of techniques in an effort to sleuth out a pattern.
To me a pattern is a combination lure/fly and presentation that is repeatable at locations with similar attributes. Once a pattern is establish you can work an area until the fish quit biting then move on to the next spot. Patterns allow you to concentrate on catching rather than figuring out how to catch.
My approach started with a review of historical information, notes, memories, conditions/fishing reports, and discussions with fellow anglers (knowing some are less then forthright in their replies). Armed with that information I rig up and first fish areas and techniques Iíve had success with. I also spend time watching my electronics. Iím looking primarily for ďbaitĒ this time of year. This is also a time to try new tactics and locations.
Once I catch a fish or two from a spot, I move on and try a similar area or two. If my presentations continue to work I know Iíve a pattern. After I establish one pattern I go to work on finding another. I may try other techniques in an area I patterned. Now is the time to explore new area and try out those flies gathering dust. Patterns can quickly change and itís the ability to change that spells the difference between a few fish and a full live well.
So how am I doing? Good actually. I think Iíve figured out a couple things. First, there are active bass of size associated with bait. So locate bait, especially if cover and/or structure is nearby and youíll find fish. Also, the active fish are aggressive and willing to chase, so fast retrieves are in order. A secondary pattern is the top water bite over much deeper water than one normally associates with smallmouth. Unfortunately, both these are only producing fish to fourteen inches or so. So Iíve still got some work to do.
The point here is simply, whether youíre recreationally or competitively fishing, work on establishing patterns and youíll bring more fish to the net.