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Not Following the Crowd Can Pay Dividends

by: David Coulson 8/21/2013

Anglers often settle into a rut, or at least a pattern that can be detrimental to catching at times.  I see this on the forum when folks are frustrated that their spot or method isnít producing like it they think it should.

Iíd like to say this doesnít happen to me, but it frequently does.  In large part I believe figuring out a pattern is one of the keys to catching lots of fish.  The downside to patterns is we, or at least I do, remember old patterns and often try those techniques/areas first before trying to match methods to the current conditions.

A second issue anglers, including me, sometime fall into is a herd mentality.  Simply, it worked (notice the past tense) for someone at some time so it should work for me.  That thinking is loved by lure manufactures, as everyone wants the ďhotĒ bait.  The downside is that before long everyone is fishing the same fish in the same areas with the same techniques. 

Last nightís mini bass tournament drove home why breaking away from the norm, such as fishing your favorite spot, pattern, or tried and true techniques, especially if the crowd is doing the same can be a winning strategy. 

Thanks to the draw I was one of the last boats out, and as such I was aware that most, if not all, of my favorite bass holding waters would be fished before I had a shot at them.  Given I fly fish, I know my techniques are enough different that I often donít think about technique as much as I should. 

Jim my non-boater suggested we head the opposite direction of the other boats and fish a section of water that I knew would hold a few fish, but I didnít consider it prime bass.  I agreed, in part, because I know that having a section of water to oneself is often better than competing head on with everyone else.

I managed the first bass using my standard techniques, which ultimately was unfortunate, as it reinforced my view that my method was working (partially true).  Especially as my experience suggested under the conditions  (hot water) fishing slow and deep (pack mentality) was the way to go.  Jim however had a different idea and went almost exclusively to top water baits.

I was surprised how effective top water was and by the time I switched over I wasnít able to make it work for me.  Oh, I got hits, and like Jim, I lost a few on top water, but unlike Jim I wasnít able to boat a fish during the short period I worked a crease fly, whereas, Jim managed enough fish to take first place. Although, I wasnít unhappy with my third place finish given I blanked on the last three outings, I also know that sticking to my ďgunsĒ cost me.

Simply, fishing away from the pack with unique techniques was the winning combination for Jim.  Had I changed up sooner, maybe Iíd of done better, then again maybe not.  Regardless, I learned a lot last night, which is why I love tournament fishing.  At the end of the day, you get to compare your choices with those of your fellow anglers.  If you come out on top, great, you made the best choices that day.  Most times you wonít finish first, but you still win, in that you get to see the results of others' choices and can use that information to improve your fishing skills. 

For me, anytime I can end the day with a bit more fishing knowledge, Iím a winner.

Blog content © David Coulson
Member comments
opencage, CO   8/21/2013 2:35:48 PM
Congrats on the 1st and 3rd finishes guys. I definitely appreciate fishing the spots on the lake with less traffic, especially in my little boat, even if it sometimes means tougher angling. I do find myself always asking if I should switch lures or presentations, but then also ask if I've changed enough variables with the current one to justify switching out. Of course seeing someone else catching a lot of fish can make that decision easier :-) Nice write-up Dave.
IceFishingFool, CO   8/21/2013 3:49:59 PM
Words of Wisdom.
FISHRANGLER, CO   8/21/2013 4:30:14 PM
Congrats Dave
JKaboom, CO   8/21/2013 10:01:53 PM
Great BLOG and points to consider. Congrats on the wins :)
Coyute, CO   8/22/2013 7:28:18 AM
Grats Jim!
PikeD, CO   8/28/2013 10:56:40 AM
You learn something every time you hit the water. The difference in a tournament you see how much you really learned in the end.
David Coulson
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