Fishing quiet is important

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Seigo Saito

Being quiet is important if you expect to catch big fish. But being quiet doesn’t mean not making noise. It means not making unnatural noise. Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about.

Most of the time it’s better to turn off your trolling motor when you’re fishing. We all know, however, that’s not always possible. So the best thing to do is to put it on steady and just guide your boat along. At least that way the unnatural noise you’re making is constant. Maybe they’ll figure out it’s not going to hurt them.

Another thing is when you bang something in your boat like the lids to your lockers or let your trolling motor drop into the water. That sound travels through the hull of your boat and into the water. It’ll scare the daylights out of the fish.

Be careful with your tackle boxes and coolers, too. Putting one down hard on the deck of your boat might not sound like much to you but it sounds like a bomb going off under the water.

Those sounds never occur in nature, and the fish know that. The big fish are especially sensitive to that sort of thing. A 5-pound plus bass didn’t get that way by accident. She’s lived for years in a dangerous environment and survived. That tells us something about her.

At the other end of our discussion are natural sounds. They may be made by unnatural objects, but they sound natural to the bass. The first example that comes to mind is a lure striking the surface of the water.

It’s unnatural in its origin, but it happens all the time. All kinds of animals and birds fall into a lake or river. Unless it’s as big as a basketball the bass will be startled, but it won’t swim away in fear. It’ll look. You see this all the time with topwater baits. Sometimes a gentle entry is the ticket, but at other times a high arc cast with a big splash gets their attention.

Another situation is when a heavy jig hits a bridge pylon. That signals that something is in trouble. The bass know that and respond. They’ll do the same thing when a heavy weight hits a mud bottom in clear water. They can see it and it looks like something they’ve seen before, something they might want to eat.

A third group of sounds are those that are unnatural but are natural to the fish. On a busy lake with lots and lots of pleasure boats running around the sounds from running outboards or screaming kids is something they hear all the time. It’s natural to them. It’s a part of their environment. The same thing is true of a busy launch ramp. Rigs are pulling in and out all day, every day. That’s normal to the fish.  

When you think about fishing quiet don’t think of quiet as the absence of sound. Think of quiet as natural sound, and think of noise as unnatural sound. I realize that’s not a perfect definition, but it’s a darn good place to start.

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