by Stan Fagerstrom
Habits, as anybody who has lived long enough to learn how to tie knots knows, can be either good or bad.
This is certainly true in the sport of fishing. Are you in the habit of continually checking the last few feet of your leader or line to detect any possible weak spots? Do you oil your reels regularly and back off the tension on the drag if they're going to be stored for a time?
These are good habits and if you haven't already made them a part of your approach to fishing you should start. There are, however, as many bad fishing habits as there are good. One of the easiest bad habits is to always throw and retrieve the same lure in exactly the same fashion.
Fishing spinnerbaits for bass provides an excellent example of what I'm talking about. Are you one of the many who simply throws your spinnerbait to the nearest cover and then reels it back in without varying either the speed of your retrieve or the depth at which the lure travels?
If you are you have lots of company. Most of us are inclined to take that approach to spinnerbait fishing and oftentimes it's not the best way to go. Never have I had this proven to me quite as clearly as on those rare occasions when I've been successful in talking my wife into joining me on a bass fishing adventure.The better your bass fishing habits, the better are your chances of putting a good one in the boat.
My wife is never going to be a full-blown bass fishing fanatic. I held onto that hope in the early years of our marriage, but it soon became obvious it wasn't going to happen. Now I accept the fact she will go now and then, but only if the air temperature is between 72 and 78º and the wind is out of the west and blowing less than five miles per hour. I also have to be sure the boat is clean and that there's a soft pillow on the stern seat and I agree not to stay out more than three hours.
I don't have to ask her what lure she wants to throw on those occasions she does come along. Her choice is a ½-ounce spinnerbait with a white skirt. There's no need to ask her if she wants to throw anything else. She's convinced that if they'll hit anything they'll smack that lure. This lady isn't a bass fishing expert, but now and then the different things she does with a lure because she doesn't know any better winds up catching fish.
Now I like spinnerbaits myself. I used one to boat the second largest bass I've ever caught. Even so, it pains me a little to admit how many times my better half has proven that she's about as good with it as I am. I say that because sometimes she sets back there in the rear of the boat and nails fish when I'm busy shooting blanks up front.
There's really no mystery as to why it happens. She's not in that common rut many of us---including yours truly---often dig for ourselves where spinnerbait fishing is concerned. She usually makes one cast to my two or three. It would probably drive me bonkers to fish my spinnerbaits as slowly as I've watched her do.
Sometimes, and again more often than I care to admit, those stupid bass don't seem to realize they shouldn't mess around with a spinnerbait fished as slowly as my wife is doing. They just go ahead and bite the dang thing anyhow. They don't seem to care one bit that I've got a lifetime of bass fishing experience and my wife doesn't know beans about it and won't lose any sleep because she doesn't.
The reason all this comes about, of course, is connected to what I said in the beginning. It's so easy to develop bad fishing habits. Try to stay loose and open to new approaches in your spinnerbait fishing. The same thing applies to other lures you're fond of using. Don't get in the habit of always fishing the same lure in exactly the same way. Sometimes just a slight change in lure presentation gets immediate results.
Always remembers there's more than one way to do darn near anything. And sometimes taking a new and different approach with a lure you've always used in exactly the same way is the answer to putting bass in the boat. Joe Bullock, a big bass catching expert from California, knows boating whoppers like he's holding here sometimes requires changing lures until you find one they'll take.
We'll take another look at this in my next column. Watch for it beginning February 1.
-To Be Continued-