Looking Back 2: Your Boat

I have tried to look back a few years into my bass fishing life and mentally capture some of the wrongs that I committed along the way in order to finds some helpful tips to help anglers improve their competitive bass fishing game.  And like many other anglers, I have discovered far more wrongs than I have rights.

Who said the angler who dies with the most lures wins?  Someone must have, the way we constantly buy fishing tackle whether we need it or not.  At this point, I could open a tackle store in my home.  Many of friends think it is one already.

Seriously, think about how much of the tackle you own that you actually use.  Now seriously think about how much of it you actually need.  And then think about how much of the bait you actually use or need that is located in your boat, which is usually the factory outlet for the garage fishing store.  I have come to the conclusion that too many choices always leads to confusion on the water. If you know you will be fishing a worm, what makes you believe you will actually need thirty different colors of the worm?  It’s the same thing with crankbaits, jigs, and spinner baits.  Do you actually believe that you need a green pumpkin jig and a bubble gum jig in the boat at the same time?  First of all, if you have ever bought a bubble gum jig, my article will not help you.  Second, my personal answer would be, NO.

I think most anglers could eliminate more than half of the bait and tackle in the boat by planning the fishing day in advance, doing homework on the fishing conditions, fishing to their strengths, and fishing with higher percentage baits.  So let’s discuss these things one by one, starting with the last.

What would you consider high percentage baits?  I believe that when a bass is hungry, they eat what’s in the lake.  Baits that resemble these food sources would be high percentage baits to me.  There is not a swim-through fast food store where they can special order a bubblegum colored crawfish.  The jig is meant to imitate a crawfish most of the time.  Crawfish are generally green or brown, sometimes tinted orange, red, or blue on parts of their exterior, and yes of course, sometimes the craw’s shell is tinted a very dark color, almost black.  The worms we use to entice bass are also very naturally colored when they are found underwater.  The same thing occurs with anything the bass eats that has gills too.  I tend to think that the natural colors of the baits we chunk into the water are generally the most high percentage baits we can use.  If there are two bass on a stump, and both are hungry, and you catch one of the bass with a bubblegum worm, I bet you can catch the second on a brown worm.  Which color occurs more in nature?  You have just eliminated an entire color from your arsenal.

The next thing you should do at the lake is fish your strengths.  If you are most comfortable fishing a Texas Rigged worm, then throw it the most.  If you could rig four different presentations, what would they be?  I would tie on a jig, probably black and blue, a crankbait that would most likely be silver with a black back, a sinking stick bait, and a top-water bait.  These baits will remain on four of my rods during the majority of every season, with only slight variations of color.  I always try new baits.  I often fish with baits that I am not as comfortable fishing with.  But I always fish my strengths the most.  I do not buy wild colors of baits very often, though I have been know to catch a tremendous amount of fish on a purple crankbait that was made back in the 70’s, and a hot pink trap in the grass.  Don’t tell anyone.

The fishing conditions on the lake will help you determine what you should probably be throwing when you go to the lake the next day.  What are the water temperature, the water clarity, and the weather going to be like?  Is the water falling or rising?  What season is it?  Is the lake rocky or are the shorelines covered with vegetation?  Right there you can determine which baits to pre-rig in preparation for your fishing day.  Mix that in with your high percentage baits, and if the fish are biting, you will catch them.

And finally, much of weight in bait and tackle that you carry in the boat can be eliminated by planning your day in advance.  Some time ago I started by preparing a day box, which is generally a smaller plastic container that fits in the central box on my bow.  I pack the day box with the things I know I will be throwing, five or six baits I might need to throw if the conditions change, and maybe some new things to try.  In the area that used to carry hundreds of pounds of baits, there are only three other boxes, that are very similar in size to my day box.  One box is full of a back-up supply of the same baits that are in my day box, and the second box carries a different set of baits incase the ones in my day box don’t work.  The third box is fishing line, treble hooks, split rings, spinnerbait blades, and other key things I might find the need for during the day.

Rods and reels don’t count.  I carry as many as I can, and normally two of each rod and several extra reels that are pre-spooled with different line sizes.  You never know when you might get a backlash or a wind knot that you would waste too much time trying to untangle, or when you might break a rod that you can’t live without during the day.

Clean out your boat, and you will be a much more productive fisherman.  Spend more time fishing, and less time digging through treasure chests of baits, to find that one special color that is sure to catch everything that swims.

Nate Noble

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