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Scott Brands
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Tough Days on the Water

Blog by: Scott Brands , CO 10/1/2018
This past weekend I got the kayak out on a new smaller body of water looking to get into some largemouth bass. Thereís always a sense of excitement when I try out a new place for the first time. The uncertainty of what could live in that pond creates an anticipation like no other. Will this be a hidden gem filled with five pound bass or will it be full of eight inch dinks? 

Upon arriving, I immediately noticed a lot of surface activity. Scattered baitfish could be seen from the parking lot breaking all over the surface and the learning process had begun. I did not expect this smaller pond to have shad in it, but I have found shad in a lot of unexpected places over the years (especially since the flood) so I really shouldnít have been all that surprised by their presence. This was a little concerning to me, however, as I was expecting more of a crayfish and bluegill forage base and didnít bring many shad imitation baits with me. The abundance of shad also meant that the fish were well fed, which could mean a slower bite, but I was ready for the challenge.

I started out the day throwing fast moving top waters to cover water, take advantage of a morning top water bite, and to locate fish. It didnít take long to figure out that the fish werenít interested in chasing my fast moving baits. I covered a lot of water without a bite while also noticing some dead shad on the surface about five inches long. I decided to slow down my presentation a bit and tied on a white popper. I made casts along grasslines, around stumps, under trees, while popping the bait and letting it sit for around 10 seconds when I finally picked up a fifteen inch bass. I hoped that I was starting to get on to something but time went by and I couldnít get any more fish to bite. 
I put the top waters down and started throwing subsurface lures. Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, flukes, senkos, jigs, and texas rigs all failed to produce. I had a couple ticks on a senko and lost a six inch dink on the chatterbait before it was time to call it a day. Overall, this was a tough day on the water for me. Others might consider this a failed trip leaving them discouraged, but even though I only caught one fish, I had a blast the entire time. 

I think we can learn a lot from our bad days on the water. That day I learned that there are shad in that pond, I learned a bit about the structure and the depth, I learned that thereís at least one fifteen inch bass in the pond, I learned where that fish blew up on my popper, I learned the water temperature, and I learned that the fish didnít really want anything that I gave them that day. Now it could have been a slower day than what is typical for this pond due to the recent cold weather we had, but the next time I visit I will be a bit more prepared by bringing more shad based lures, a finesse rod for more finesse presentations, and even a heavier set up to punch areas where bass may have been hunkered down. 

The moral of the story is to maintain a positive attitude during your tough days on the water. Instead of catching fish being your measure of success that day, make learning your measure of success. That way instead of leaving the lake with a skunk, youíll leave the lake with more knowledge and a better game plan for next time.

Blog content © Scott Brands
Blog Comments
anglerwannabe, 10/1/2018 6:30:59 PM
Like you, I don't feel bad when the ole skunk comes round. Because also like you, detailed notes of the outing were taken and if nothing else, learned what didn't work. One trip may not mean much, but sustained info and trips it becomes very important.
bron, 10/1/2018 6:54:40 PM
One of my goals for 2018 was 5 more new bodies of water. As I get more long in the tooth it gets harder for me every year to do this. Im at 4. We did really well on the first one, skunked the second, my son at least scored on the 3rd, and got a bunch of bluegill the 4th. I get really gung ho every time I do a new lake too. Its totally an adventure then and not routine. To me its one of the best parts of fishing.
Lloyd Tackitt, 10/3/2018 5:22:40 AM
That's a good write up Scott, thank you for sharing. Days like that are not a negative as you so rightly put - there are many positive aspects to them. Including you were fishing and not watching tv!
nparker, 10/3/2018 9:39:14 AM
I fished a private lake yesterday and it was very slow compared to past trips. There seemed to be shad surfacing all over and some dead on shore. I was fly fishing and got a 13 inch Crappie on a Dragonfly nymph. My buddy did about the same except for a 5lb Catfish. I concluded that the fish wre well fed. I could not get a single Carp either which was unusual. Time for trout?
Smelly, 10/3/2018 3:15:45 PM
Good moral to the story blog Scott !! A few years back now . I got into this " Fish Exploring " thing Yes. A "wild hair,you know where" kind of idea ! ) . I set out to try new water. The fish didn't matter. big, small , warm water cold water. Just go out , look at the conditions I'm faced with ,and see if I can find fish. My only rule was "hardware only" . And I was only going to do it for 1 season. Have I eaten my share of " Humble Pie " ? YUP ! But just like you. I had a blast doing it. And now 3+ years later. I'm still having a blast ! Here is my take on this. The good days . Those when you "hammer em". You don't really learn anything. You already knew enough to put an effective pattern together.The times when you go out and get you butt whooped ? THAT'S when school is in session !Cause at some point. You are gonna ask yourself. What did I miss? What should I have done different ? No such thing as a failed trip. If you learn something. Like you stated. Positive attitude is key. You got the perfect attitude for this exploring game. But be careful . It can get a little addicting. It's fun. But I've burned a fair amount of tire rubber and vacation time doing it !!
nparker, 10/6/2018 10:18:38 AM
I agree, lots to learn when the bite is off, sometimes anyway. An abundance of bait fish may result in slow fishing. I am not hungry after dinner either, but I will eat ice cream. Try other baits, methods, water depths, time of day, etc Enjoy not doing yard work.