Thinking Outside the Box

Bass don’t read books or magazines. Fish aren’t fans of ‘ESPN’ or ‘Versus’ and I don’t think any of them take Bill Dance seriously anymore. Bass don’t realize that on certain days under certain conditions they are SUPPOSED to bite “bait such & such”.

In heavily fished waters it is possible for fish to be acclimated to certain types of baits, certain colors, even certain presentations. Sometimes, in order to catch our elusive prey, we have to try something that doesn’t fit within the realm of “Normal” presentation or baits. In other words, we have to think outside the box.

There are numerous examples of “fishing outside the box” in magazines and on television. Some of these have led to the invention of new lures or new designs on old standby lures.

I want to take a minute and discuss a few examples of fishing outside the box that are memorable to me. I read in a BassMaster magazine, a story discussing the author and his partner fishing a tournament in the city limits. I will summarize the content as I don’t have access to the original. They were bank fishing, he and his partner separated to cover more water when he heard a loud “ker-plunk” upon investigating he found his partner had tied a large nut in front of a floating crankbait and threw the ‘weight’ and crankbait combination beyond a bedded fish. Then he slowly drug the assembly to the edge of the bed and gave the line slack, then pulled it back in, and then repeated the process. He ended up picking up a very nice sack this way as the authors partner explained that the crankbait resembled a bream that was invading the bedded bass’ nest. Makes sense to me. Still haven’t tried it, if I did I would probably use an egg sinker.

I am sure most of us have read about fishing a small hair jig under a bobber/float/cork. I can say I am sure this works and have tried my own variation of it with a wacky rigged finesse worm under a float.

Have you heard about the small crankbait rigged in tandem with the larger crankbait tied behind it? This is supposed to resemble a small bait fish being pursued by a larger predator.

I have taken a 7” Stickbait that El Grande Lures used to make, (in Tilapia which is still available), and rigged it wacky. People thought it was hilarious until I pulled up with over 18lbs in the sack. I believe there is still a photo of a 6lber on U.B. with that setup on it.

I will park a boat in the shallows and throw out to a deepwater point, working the bait “UPHILL”…you would be surprised how many people won’t do this and look at you like your crazy for doing it. My thoughts are this: When fishing from the bank, anglers try their best to get out in deeper water; until they are in a boat then they want to get to the shallowest water.

There are multiple ideas that I am sure, when they were first attempted (especially in a tournament) that were considered odd/different/strange/or just plain goofy.

How about the wacky rig, the mojo rig, shakey head rig, drop shot, heck even flipping and pitching, which are now staples in almost every anglers arsenal, were new techniques not very long ago.

Pattern fishing, which is to determine what the fish are doing, what depth they are at, what type of cover/structure they are relating to and what type of retrieve/bait these fish want is something else that can help an angler fish outside the box.

Fishing in an area with clear water, post frontal conditions on an outside grass line. I could see fish cruise in and out of the hydrilla but couldn’t get them to bite a jig, crankbait, t-rig, c-rig, wacky, dropshot or anything. I felt like I had thrown the tackle box at them. I finally decided to take a clear jerk bait, put it on my dropshot rod (with 8lb test) and used about 3 lbs of suspend dots to get the lure down and make it stable around 6 feet or so. I would cast out and get my bait to depth then just stop. After the longest 60 seconds of my life – twitch it a few times and wait again. I caught a limit that day – not huge fish – but still a limit that would’ve never made it into the livewell without trying something a little different.

My partner and I hired a guide on a large reservoir we weren’t familiar with. When we got to the boat the I picked up a black/blue jig with a craw trailer. I knew with the water stained and level up that a jig to the brush should do the trick. I listened to the guide (he knows what he’s doing, right?) as he told me that the “Jig Bite” was over and to throw “this” I listened to the expert, we caught some fish – but to make a long story short the tournament was won on a black / blue jig. I knew what to do, was ready to do it, but didn’t want to go against the prevailing wisdom. I know this isn’t really “out of the box” but the point I want to make is this. Just because someone else, even a respected angler, says “I wouldn’t waste my time throwing that” or “You want to do what?”. Don’t worry about the other anglers. Chances are if no one is throwing ‘that’, fish probably haven’t seen it.

I have been guilty of listening to my partner, dock talk at the launch, and at the weigh-ins. Don’t succumb to temptation. If you approach the water with the knowledge you possess and the desire to fish you can figure out what they want. Maybe not every time but with time on the water, comes experience. Experience does not insure Success. In order to succeed, one must learn from experience and experiment to find what will work when nothing else will.

In our quest to become better anglers and catch more fish, it is important to remember this: The fish may travel in schools but they never read a BassMaster magazine or log onto I am not saying you should run out and grab a bunch of bobbers for your next tournament, but I encourage you to not be afraid to try a different approach and fish outside the box. Who knows, you may just fill the live well and invent the newest way to catch fish!

By Garry McCollum


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.