A friend and I recently fished an old oxbow lake near the Mississippi River for six hours and caught one fish — yes, just one.
A few times throughout the day, though, I had an intuition — a gut feeling — there were some things I knew I should have tried and some places I knew I should have gone, but I didn't. Now, it didn't bother me non-stop, but it did bother me off and on ... for two weeks.
Finally, I called my fishing partner from that day and said, "You know, I think we ought to go back. I know that lake has a lot of fish in it, and I think I know what we did wrong. Let's give the duck hunters their morning and then let's go back over there mid-morning or so and give those bass another chance.
Fortunately, my fishing buddy, despite first saying, "Are you serious?" was willing to give the place another try.
I might have comforted him somewhat by adding, "You know those fish are in there somewhere. I mean there is a bank, and there really are only so many places they can go. We know they're in the water, somewhere."
(My fishing partner took that in stride, too, fortunately.)
And we went back, and I tried the things that my intuition told me I should have tried on the previous trip. In 10 minutes, we caught one that weighed 2 1/2 pounds, and then missed two more before going on a fish catching tear. We ended up catching 32 bass. There wasn't a fish over 3 pounds, but rest assured the return to this lake to catch 'em made me feel good inside. Once again, it taught me the importance of trusting my intuition.
"How did you know?" my friend said in the wake of our success.
"I just had a feeling," I said.
A lot of times we hear the saying, "Let the fish tell you what to do!"
Do the fish really tell us to slow the bait down or speed the bait up, to fish upcurrent or downcurrent, or whether to fish deep or shallow, etc.?
Honestly, I have never had a fish tell me what to do. Fish don't watch fishing shows or read blogs like this. When it comes down to it, it's up to me, my know-how and my experience to help me make my decisions. As anglers, we need to learn to trust our intuitions (which most often are based on experience) when it comes to making the choices that make or break bass fishing trips.
And the more you fish, the more you will have these kinds of intuitions. That's a good thing.
So, the next time you go fishing and something tells you what to do, realize it's you talking — you and your own know-how, gained through experience — and be confident enough to give it a try before talking yourself out of it.
As I have always said, confidence is the most important tool in your tacklebox.
For more words of wit and wisdom from one of our sport's greatest legends, check out www.billdanceoutdoors.com.