Do you have a tendency to stick to specific techniques/lures that have worked at specific marks in the past, and can this affect your catches?
Well I know I do. Rightly or wrongly, I don’t mind admitting that I turn to certain lures and techniques at specific marks where they have worked well for me before, and I would hazard a guess that a lot of you do this - at least as a kind of default anyway, and then chop and change according to conditions and whether you start catching fish or not. Some locations by their nature tend to call for a certain approach, and we all know how the whole confidence thing is so damn important in any kind of fishing. If you have caught before at a specific mark on a specific lure and a specific technique, it’s only natural to do the exact same thing again and again……..
On the flipside though, how often do you fish a spot you know really well in the way that you have done so well on in the past, only this time you catch sod all? Talk naturally turns to something along the lines of oh well, there were obviously no fish there today because we didn’t catch them when on similar tides, conditions, etc. we smashed them before - but is that always the case? Would a very different approach have found you a few fish, or were there really no fish around? Do we become a bit blinkered sometimes because we naturally default to what we know has been successful in the past? I like to think that I am an open minded angler, and certain fishing related instances really bounce around my brain when they are actually based around spots that I know and fish myself - when somebody fishes a spot that I know in a way that I have never done and then catches a heap of fish, well I would be beyond stupid not to sit up and take notice and think about how I could then incorporate aspects of what they have done into my armoury………….
An angler I know who happens to firstly be bloody good at fishing, and secondly grew up spending a lot of (family holiday) time fishing the exact same area of Kerry that I am now lucky enough to spend time around with this co-guiding work I do with John Quinlan - well this angler fished the Irish Bass Festival this year and based himself in Tramore on the south coast of Ireland. He is getting to know this part of Ireland bit by bit, but he has no preconceived notions if you like about how certain spots “should” be fished (which of course makes no sense anyway) - a few days before the festival started, this bloke wandered down to a spot that is well known by plenty of lure anglers. I guess he would feel a little naked without a few of those discontinued Bass Bullet lures in his box of tricks (and yes, this blog post does link into my discussions about long-range surf fishing recently, check here, here and here for example), and why on earth would he know that many anglers who fish this particular spot will tend to turn to those orange, white and yellow Savage Gear Sandeels, or at least something along those lines. Why you might ask? Because they have smashed fish on those lures at that particular spot plenty of times before.
But on this particular occasion this UK angler saw loads of birds working in behind the pretty lively surf, and because where he grew up bass fishing it’s perfectly natural to firstly know how to read and fish these conditions when there’s obviously a load of bait around, and secondly he’s gone prepared to fish (surf) conditions with a sufficiently powerful rod (Major Craft Skyroad 9’6’’ 15-42g) to really get his Bass Bullets out there, well let’s put it this way - he frigging smashed ‘em. On that first session at this spot he landed 25 bass in the 4-8lbs range, and that in anybody’s book is some serious bass fishing. The next day he went back and found good conditions again and landed 20 bass in the 3-6lbs range, and on the third session down there the conditions weren’t nearly as good but he still landed 5 bass around 4-5lbs.
Now all these bass were taken by belting out a Bass Bullet and then cranking it back at a speed which makes it work as a surface lure - he told me that at some points there were so many bass around that they would hit the lure the moment it came up on the surface, and then if the odd fish came off another one would then smash into the lure. I don’t see how lure fishing for bass is going to get much more exciting than taking them off the top at range in a big surf, but the simple fact is that I have never, ever gone to this spot equipped to fish like this guy did. Have I been missing out? Well I have to assume a big fat yes siree, because the simple fact is that the methods that have worked so well for other anglers in the past at this spot don’t always work - granted, there aren’t always going to be bass there, but what about when the conditions look just about perfect but we struggle?
I bet most of us here have got locked into certain lures and techniques at certain spots, but how often you do go to these spots prepared to do something totally different to what you would have done before? What this guy did was not a fluke, but whilst I know a couple of guys who might do a bit of long-range shore jigging at this spot, I don’t know of another angler who has deliberately fished there with ultra long-range surface lures. This is but one example though, and my questions here of course revolve around any kind of lure fishing that you or I might be dialled into but are then ignoring another potentially more successful way of doing things. Does that make sense? Sure, we might already be doing exactly the right thing at the right time in the right place, but what are the odds of that? I sure as hell am happy to admit that the more I learn about this lure fishing thing, the more I realise how little I actually know, and it excites the hell out of me. Nothing floats my boat in fishing more than learning new stuff. Have a good weekend.