Don’t miss what’s going on

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Bassmaster Marshal

I didn’t pick that title by accident. It’s there to make a point. It comes from the perspective of an angler who has missed what’s going on this year. And I can tell you from personal experience that when you let that happen the result isn’t pretty. 

In 10 years fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series I’ve qualified for seven Classics. Last year was a tough year for me. I didn’t make the Classic. I said then that the problem was that I wasn’t fishing to my strength — shallow water. I made a commitment that I would change that this year. Believe me when I say I’ve tried. 

The truth is, though, I’ve missed what’s going on and it has really hurt me. Going back to my roots hasn’t done me any good. 

We had a cold spring, or maybe no spring at all in some places, and then it turned into summer really fast. That messed up the traditional movements of the bass. I haven’t been able to follow them or key in on what they’re doing. 

I think the problem is that I’ve been trying to fish a normal year when I should have been fishing what was going on at the time. I’ve been looking at the calendar too much and not looking at my surroundings enough. 

To tell you how crazy things are right now I’ll point out that up in Minnesota there was still ice on the water as late as just a couple of weeks ago. In Tennessee the water moved from 65 degrees to 78 degrees in nine days. That doesn’t make sense but that’s the way things are this year. At the same time, in some reservoirs and lakes the water is dropping. That’s not unheard of in May, but it isn’t really normal, either. 

When you put all of that together it creates a situation that caused the bass to do funky things, things I haven’t figured out as of today. I mean, when your best finish for the year is 43rd…

In a lot of places you’ll see prespawn, spawn and postspawn bass all mixed up together. The traditional patterns aren’t holding. There’s no defined movements that we can key in on as anglers. 

Of course, a lot of what I have said is as much excuse as it is reason. We’re supposed to make adjustments and alter our approach to deal with unusual conditions. I admit that. And, in fairness, some of the guys have figured things out, at least on some lakes. It’s not everybody. 

The question that I can’t answer right now is, what will all this do to the rest of the year? Will the bass act normally by July or will they continue to be unpredictable on into the winter? The answer to that question will have a huge effect on how we fish and whether or not we’re successful. 

And so I warn you: Don’t think normal and don’t look at the calendar, at least not until you’re sure normal has returned. Look at what’s actually happening around you on your body of water and on the day you’re fishing, and then conduct yourself accordingly.