Hackney: Keep an open mind

This topic is related to the last two columns I’ve written but with a different twist. Sometimes when you’re not catching them or when you’re not catching the ones you want you need to keep an open mind. It’s important to think outside the box sometimes.

This situation happened to me at the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament on the St. Lawrence River. After it was all over I realized it was one of the fun fishing experiences of my professional life. I didn’t just have a good event. I had a good time.

When prefishing first started I followed conventional wisdom and went looking for big smallmouth out deep. I found a few but not enough to win. So, I decided to check out some water that looked like it might hold largemouth. It did.

In the first three days of the tournament I had at least 150 blowups on a frog in that area. That’s not a typo. I mean 150. To be fair a lot of them were about a pound and a half. But still, that’s a lot of bites. It was one right after the other.

I’m no rookie. At the time I suspected the tournament would be won with smallmouth. It was. But, that wasn’t what was working for me. I kept an open mind, accepted reality and went shallow for green bass. I don’t regret that decision. I didn’t win but I did make both cuts and ended up in third place. That was good for a nice check and lifted me up to 13th place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.

Maybe we — all of us — should go “open mind” more often. We develop preconceived notions about the fish we should be catching and where we should be catching them. The end result is a disaster when we could have had a good day(s) if we had only kept an open mind and done things a little different.

Think about that the next time you go fishing.

I do want to make a couple of other observations before I go. First, the St. Lawrence River is one of the best numbers fisheries I’ve ever fished. I rarely recommend a place to fish. They all have their pluses and minuses. In this case I’m going to make an exception. Go to the St. Lawrence River if you can. You won’t regret it.

Another thing is that it’s big, really big. I was talking to Aaron Martens during the tournament. He estimated he’d only seen about 10 percent of it. I doubt I saw more than half that amount. When I say that keep in mind that we both covered a ton of water while we were there.

Another great thing about this river is that the bass have little or no education. The whole time I was up there I don’t think I saw 20 fishing boats, including other B.A.S. S. competitors. There are a lot of recreational boats but very few fishing boats. Tell me that’s not a good thing?

The only thing that’s a little negative about the St. Lawrence River is that you have to be careful about the weather. If the wind blows against the current, it can get dangerously rough in a hurry. Be careful.