It’s Monday afternoon, the temperature is hitting the mid 90’s, and there’s not a cloud in the sky. The water on the river is a little high and stained. My afternoon of fishing, which was planned to calm the nerves from a hard work day, was looking like it was going to be more stressful than work. I slow the Javelin down just past a cut that runs into the woods. I look down the cut and see the sun beating down on the bank I want to fish. I pull into the cut and start fishing the shady bank. I fish down this bank and get a few strikes and loose a decent fish. I look over at the bank I wanted to fish, wipe the sweat from my forehead, and go to the sun beaten bank. As I start fishing the bank my confidence level goes way up. I know this bank has a good drop off and a ton of structure. That is when a thought entered my mind ” why did I start fishing on the other bank when I know that this bank is better. The answer to that question is easy ” I was simply following the ” laws of fishing”, or as some people may put it ” going by the book”. I was taught that bass love shade and they will move to the shady banks. I also know however that bass like drop-offs with lots of cover, so why did I pick the shady bank. As I pondered this more thoughts started filling my mind. I started thinking things like ” why do I tend to fish deep and slow in the winter time when I have had trips where I caught fish on fast moving baits. Most anglers who have been bass fishing for years may look at the last few statements I wrote and say ” DUH”. Before you think ” this guy is crazy'” keep reading and you may have a new out look on things.
First let’s look at what we know and can prove about bass. We know that bass are cold-blooded creatures, and according to observations we know the warmer the environment the more active these creatures become. By the same token we know these cold-blooded creatures become less active as their environment gets colder. So the fish are going to bite more when the water temperature is 80 degrees as compared to a water temperature of 45 degrees, right? It just makes sense that you need to throw slower moving baits in colder water. We also know through observations and studies that fish tend to go to deeper water in the winter time. So obviously throwing a slow moving bait in deep water is what we should do.
Well even though we have studies and science to prove these theories, they don’t always hold true. I often looked at the “cold blooded – low activity theory”( I know that’s not the actual name of a theory but I’ll call it that) and wondered how that applied to ice fishing. Let’s face it, water doesn’t get colder than that, yet these anglers have great catches day in and day out. Now I know most people will say it’s the type of fish they are catching and the type of environment these fish live in. I’ll take these thoughts into consideration, but the fact still remains a fish, no matter what species, is a cold-blooded creature. Think about that for a minute.
Now, where am I going with this? Let me give you some examples of “defying the laws of fishing”. I once had a trip in February, after a cold front passed through, where my partner and I caught very well on a rattle trap. Not only did we catch them on the rattle trap but we caught them burning the trap over grass beds. I talked to several anglers, who were crazy enough to be out on the lake those two days, and none of them were catching fish. Guess what they were throwing? If you guessed jig & pigs and Carolina rigged lizards you would be correct. I have had several good trips in late winter on Toledo Bend where the water and air temps were way down but the fish were nailing a fast moving rattle trap. I also know a man from my home town that “rips” the fish in the winter time on buzz baits. I believe this man is possibly the king of buzz baits but none the less to catch fish on them in the winter is very unusual or is it?
Catching fish on fast moving baits and top water lures in the winter time is unusual because it’s not something that is practiced. Think about it, when is the last time you pulled out the ole buzzbait in the winter time? Why wouldn’t you try it? Because the laws of fishing say not too.
Here’s something else to ponder. Does the weather affect the fish or does it affect the fisherman. I would say it affects us more than them. Let’s face it, when it’s hot we are looking for the shady bank, and when it’s cold we look to get out of the wind and find a sun beaten bank. We convince ourselves that these places are where the fish will be most comfortable, but the truth is it’s where we are the most comfortable.
In closing I will leave you with one more thought. You may say ” Jared the examples you gave are rare occurrences and the tried and proven methods are for me”. Well, I believe they are rare occurrences only because they are not tried and proven. If you throw a jig & pig with all the confidence in the world and you throw it all day long you are liable to catch some fish. But if never try that rattle trap, buzzbait, or what ever goes against the grain how do you know it wouldn’t have worked? When you are having a rough day and the fish are not cooperating, try “defying the laws of fishing”.