Keep an open mind

This week I’m going to talk about something that’s been bugging me for a while. It’s the fact that some anglers refuse to open their minds to new lures and to new approaches in smallmouth fishing. I see it every day in the tackle store. It bugs me because I know these guys could be catching more fish if they’d just do something different.

If you’re going to catch smallies on a regular basis you’re going to have to change your approach to find them and make them bite from time to time. I don’t care how much you like to fish a tequila sunrise plastic worm rigged Texas style on rocks. It won’t catch fish all the time. Saying things like, “That’s my lure” or “That’s my color” or “That’s my spot” is silly. Why limit yourself?

I’m guessing that if you’re reading this column you probably read most of the others as well. The first thing that you notice is that the anglers who write those columns, and who are successful at the Elite Series and Open levels, throw whatever it takes to catch them. They may, or may not, have a favorite lure or place to fish but they never let that get in the way of catching fish.

Guys come into the tackle shop down here and buy the same lure every time. It doesn’t matter if it’s spring, summer, fall or winter. I appreciate their business but get tired of their complaints that the bass aren’t biting or that the other guys are catching more smallies than they are. Change up, man! Give ‘em what they want.

If you want to really see what I’m talking about go back and read the columns Mike Iaconelli wrote about last year’s Elite Series tournaments. In every one of them he changed lures and changed his approach. He didn’t do that because he gets bored easily. He did that because that’s what he had to do to catch fish. Conditions were different so he had to change his thinking.

For some reason I think smallmouth anglers are especially prone to getting stuck on one lure or one approach. Maybe it’s because we fish the same water all the time, or maybe it’s because we only remember the days we were successful. More likely, it’s because there’s a kind of cult built up around these gorgeous fish. The why doesn’t matter, though. What’s important is that we stop doing it.

I say we because if I’m not careful I find myself reaching for the same lure or starting on the same spot day after day. This problem isn’t like it’s only a few of us or like it’s the guys someplace else. We all do it. But we shouldn’t. It limits our catches.

I think we should make a New Year’s resolution that next year we’re going to change our lures and our approach to our smallmouth fishing regularly. Maybe it should say something like, “I’m going to learn one new bait or fish one new spot in my favorite lake or river every month until I’m comfortable with change.”

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