Fishing small on the Arkansas River

I’m writing this one a little early this week while I’m on my way from Douglas Lake to the Arkansas River. I’m looking forward to fishing down there, but I’m guessing it’ll be high, muddy and running a lot of current. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a two edged sword.

Yes, it makes the fishing tough. The biggest problem is finding fishable water. Most of us know where the fish are after a day or two of practice. The trick is to find a place they’re at that we can fish effectively.

As a practical matter, the conditions we’re likely to face shrink the fishery. We all end up in just a few places. We call it rubbing rails. That’s not the best situation, but it does have one huge advantage for some of us. It levels the playing field in the sense that the tournament becomes a contest of who can make them bite rather than who can find the best spot with the best fish on it.

To be frank, that’s OK with me. I’m better at out-fishing my competitors in one area than I am at finding the places where the big ones are holding and predicting what they’ll do tomorrow and the next day. I’d just as soon throw behind someone as I would try to compete with him finding them.

That probably says something about me as a bass pro, but I’m not sure what it is. It could be that it’s as simple as what I think I’m best at. But it could also be that I want to be certain I’m fishing where the fish are. Maybe the crowd gives me a sense of security in that regard.

That’s enough head stuff for now.

It’s good to be back on the road after a couple of weeks at the office. I do miss Tracey, though. She stopped traveling with me when they changed the rules and she couldn’t fish during official practice. It just wasn’t as much fun for her anymore. (That’s not a criticism of the rule, just a fact.)

We always worked as a team, and we were proud to do so, even when we weren’t all that successful catching fish. She really helped me, too. I’m way too patient. I’ll fish an area to death — even if I’m not catching fish — but not her. If she isn’t catching them, she wants to go somewhere else — now, not later. The truth is, I needed that push every now and again.

Now I have to go it alone. I miss the companionship, the driving help and the good food she cooked. Come to think of it, we’ve never talked about some of her cooking. She’s a serious woman when it comes to cooking. I’ll tell a story or two about that when the tournament season is over. You’ll enjoy them.