Playing the Odds



I had a kind reminder this week of playing the odds in the spring fishing game. I spent 3 evenings prefishing for a local tournament here in Eastern South Dakota and was pretty classic in that I put a jig on with the sole intent on pitching shallow.
After the first night of prefishing and nothing to show for my efforts, but a bunch of drowned minnows, the drive home was a mind twisting effort to figure out what to try next. Sitting down at the table when I got home, I began my notes from the evening of fishing, what structure I fished, where, why, water temperatures, and results. The results were easy, a big fat zero. The water temp and other information looked like a jumbled mess on the page. Nothing connected any dots.
The next morning, I looked at the notes again and took a different attitude towards everything. Told myself, “Open your mind, think out of the box” and the bass mentality kicked in. When I prefish for a bass tournament, I have 4-6 techniques rigged and ready to go at all times. I switch often and try everything. At this point, I realized I fell right into the category of “Stuck in Mud” when it comes to techniques by picking one and not switching.
That night a jig, a Berkley Flicker Shad, and a live bait rig where rigged and ready when hitting the water. I covered water fast and switched techniques often. I pulled the rig over the side of the boat the whole time as I was alternating between casting the jig and crank. At the end of the night, I had 11 walleyes landed, 4 on the rig, 4 on the jig, and 3 on the crank.
Sitting at the table righting down my notes, starting with water temp at 51 degrees, what the fish were caught, where, and when, the light bulb went off. The fish are in post-spawn, spread out, recouping from spawn. Here was the trend, with the boat in 5-6 foot of water my first fish always came on the rigs. That would go about an hour. Then the bite would switch to jig, which I was pitching into about 3 foot of water. When the sun hit the horizon, the cranks started to go.
The game plan fell together. Tournament night, I started with rigs, after an hour, the jigs came out, and when the sun hit the horizon, the Flicker Shad was thrown. The results were a limit good for 3rd place. But more importantly, was the reminder to myself not to get caught in rut. Open the mind, play the odds with multiply techniques, and then zone in on what works where and when.
We’re all guilty of having our favorite lures, techniques, and methods, but a closed mind can result in an empty box more times than not. Keep your options open and you will catch more fish more often.