During a fishing trip with Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall last week, James stepped off the trolling motor for a minute and offered a profound thought.
He does that sometimes.
“Consider this,” he said. “Today, we’ve caught bass on crappie jigs, little swimbaits and ChatterBaits. But for the last two hours, we’ve both been using crankbaits — and we haven’t had a bite.”
Raise your hand if you’ve never made that mistake.
Now, put your hand down and stop lying to a website. It’s weird.
As bass fishermen, we’re all wired to think three steps ahead.
If a lure is working just a little bit, we want to figure out what will really work.
If something’s really working, we want to find out what will really, really work.
I blame the lure manufacturers — and I say that lovingly.
They’ve put in so much work and research through the years and provided so many good options that some of us have made bass fishing harder than it has to be.
With multiple boxes filled with the greatest lures ever known to man, it’s hard to admit sometimes that the best one for today might already be tied to a rod-and-reel on the deck of our boat.
But consider some examples from the Bassmaster Elite Series.
During the 2016 Elite Series event on the Potomac River, Justin Lucas spent four days fishing one community-hole boat dock with a drop shot and won by more than 4 pounds. Afterward, he said it actually helped that he didn’t have any other options because when the bite slowed down for a while on that dock, there was nothing to make the wheels in his head spin out of control.
At the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Conroe, Jordan Lee did some amazing things with a jig off the end of one point that had a tiny patch of hard bottom. He was aided on the final day by the fact that he was literally stranded.
A boat breakdown forced him to stay with what was working.
During the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge earlier this month, Takahiro Omori stuck with one, little red crankbait in one tiny, little spot for almost the entire tournament.
He actually switched to a different color for a while. But when he lost that one, he went right back to his bread and butter and won going away.
As important as it is to adjust on the fly sometimes, it might be even more important to admit that not every lure is going to work every time we go.
Sometimes looking for a technique that rates a nine on a scale of one to 10 is a big waste of time when you’ve already identified a solid seven.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Men aren’t interested in what’s on TV. They’re only interested in what else is on TV.”
He could just as easily have been talking about bass anglers.
If James Hall and I had been happy with any of our initial decisions, we probably would have caught more fish — and I might not have lost one of my best crankbaits in an electric fence.
But that’s a story for another column.