As most of you know, I fish a lot on the Great Lakes. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re the best smallmouth fisheries on the planet. Why is a subject of much debate and has little relevance to us as anglers. All we really care about is catching them, or at least that’s all I care about.
Good as they are, they do have drawbacks. One of them is wind. When the wind blows, the waves grow to a height of 6 to 8 feet, sometimes much higher than that. Pushing a boat safely through that kind of water requires the proper equipment. Mercury’s High Five prop is a part of having the proper equipment.
I’ve needed one for a while now. I have known that. But I’m also frugal (read: cheap) so I have never had a five-blade prop. I have threes and fours but not a five. I decided to let loose last week and buy one. It seemed like the right time.
I made the purchase on Wednesday afternoon. Right after I installed it, I headed into town to find a drugstore so that I could stock up on Dramamine. A guy can’t be too careful with motion sickness.
In between doing all of that, I was checking and rechecking everything in my boat. I had an extra strap on my trolling motor and an extra strap over my batteries. My compartments were packed solid so that nothing could move around, no matter how rough it was out there.
With the air of confidence that can only come from thorough preparation, I went to bed early and slept like a baby. The five-blade prop would give me a solid bite when I needed to climb big rollers and the Dramamine would keep me from having to wash out the inside of my boat at the carwash after the Green Bay Challenge weigh-in.
It all seemed perfectly reasonable at the time. Actually, it was better than reasonable. It was complete. I was ready for big water, big waves and big smallmouth.
With my head held low — Dramamine makes me drowsy and lethargic — I launched early on Thursday morning and headed out toward open water. All of my preparations were for naught. The wind didn’t blow; there were no waves. I didn’t need a five-blade prop and I didn’t need Dramamine. It was like fishing in a bathtub. My bite was about that good, too.
They just weren’t deep. Most of the guys who made the first cut fished up in the river. My strategy of fishing open water looking for big schools of big fish was about as wrong as it could be. I was way in front of the fish. They were still shallow from the spawn. The guys who figured that out early caught them. Those of us who didn’t came up short.
It’s one thing to be disappointed about not catching fish. But to be disappointed because your preparations didn’t matter is something only a fellow angler could understand.