In praise of junk fishing

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Steve Bowman

My last Bassmaster Elite Series tournament turned out to be a reminder lesson for me and, I suspect, for a lot of other anglers, too. I didn’t have a pattern or a place going for me after practice. It just didn’t come together. The fish were scattered and weren’t biting the same thing anywhere. At least that’s the way it was for me.

Nevertheless, I was able to secure a 10th place finish at the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge by running around and throwing at everything and anything that looked good. They call that junk fishing. 

I don’t know how it got that name, but in some ways it’s unfortunate. It sounds kind of negative, like it lacks class or like you don’t know what you’re doing. The thing is, though, nothing could be farther from the truth. 

What it really means — to me at least — is fishing no particular place or type of place and with no particular lure or type of lure. It’s about taking advantage of whatever’s in front of you at the moment.

The conditions at Dardanelle were perfect for junk fishing. It was the postspawn with some of the fish still close to their beds, some of them in their summer haunts and still others somewhere in between. At the same time the water was fluctuating every day. For a while it was up, for a while it was down and for a brief period of time it was stable.

It’s hard to put together a game plan when that happens, and so I did the only thing I knew to do. I broke out between 12 and 20 rods every day with a different lure tied on every one of them. A different lure means I had something that would cover every depth and every speed. Basically I was ready for anything.

Once I had all of that in order I cruised the lake looking for some place I’d like to live if I was a big bass. When I saw a place like that I shut down my big motor and threw at it. That worked. I’d guess I caught my 19 bass on 10 different lures and in 10 different places. 

Far too many anglers think that kind of fishing isn’t a plan. They think it’s desperate, helter-skelter in nature. But that’s not the case at all. It’s a plan for catching bass when you don’t have anything more certain in mind. 

The reality of bass fishing is that sometimes bass aren’t doing what we think they should be doing. When that happens we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not being able to figure them out or blame them for not acting like we think they should. We should adapt. If we don’t, we aren’t going to catch them. 

Think about that the next time you’re out fishing and can’t put much of anything together. You’ll be better off for it.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website, mikeiaconelli.com.

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