Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rule #5 of Clay’s “10-Rules of Successful Fishing”

I am getting nervous just writing this Blog posting.  I may be sitting peacefully next to my fireplace while I write it but…just thinking about what happened while fishing Old Moline City Lake makes me shake and break out in a cold sweat.   At times like this I wonder if Hemmingway also felt alone and insecure?  Sometimes it’s just plain hard being the “Hemmingway of Blogs”. 

I’m fishing again with Jim…you know…the guy who I fished with at Howard City Lake…the one that I had to buy his lunch to “bribe” him to fish with me again that same afternoon. 

Hey…leave me alone…my motto is, “Whatever it takes”.

That said…Jim did something that afternoon that made me almost pass out from anxiety.  The problem is…I think he did it on purpose.   Yep…I think it was his way of getting even with me for him having to spend a few more hours sharing a boat together.  That’s it…no doubt about it…Jim saw a chance for pay back…and he took it…!

What did Jim do that almost had me having a heart attack?  What was so dastardly that even today as I write this sentence I need a beverage to help settle my nerves?

He broke Rule #5 of Clay’s “10-Rules of Successful Fishing”…

”Never Leave Fish to Find Fish…EVER…”!

I guarantee that everyone reading this Blog would catch a LOT more fish if they would adopt Rule #5 and follow it.  Except in extreme circumstances…game fish of the same species congregate together.  No…not because they like each other…but because the environmental needs of a particular fish is the same for all the fish of that same species.  Therefore, they “school” because “mother nature” forces them too.  In other words, whatever draws a bass (or walleye, catfish, crappie, etc.) to a particular location will naturally draw other fish of the same species as well.  What draws fish to a particular location is ALWAYS food and cover…except during spawning…and then what draws them together is….okay, never mind…you get the picture. 

So…if the food and cover draws one fish to that location then there are probably more fish like it in the same area.  PLUS, and this is important, if you can find other areas with the same environmental conditions you will catch even more fish.  That’s call “patterning” a fish which has been discussed in other Blog postings.

So here is the deal…when you catch a fish you should assume others are in the area and fish for them.  Most fisherman simply continue walking around the bank and/or moving their boat down the bank without regard to the powerful forces behind the “schooling” nature of fish.  When you catch a fish you should spent time trying to catch others in that area.  That might mean using the same lure (at the same depth and speed used to catch the first fish) or it might mean changing lures and presentations to trigger the other fish.

The top tournament fishermen in the world rarely catch one fish and then quickly move from that spot.  A LOT of tournaments and millions of dollars have been won by fishing the same 100-yard stretch of bank…over and over and over…back and forth…changing lures, changing presentations, changing speeds, etc…one fish now…one fish later…but always one fish at a time.  Where there is one…you should always assume there are more…!

I was leading the B.A.S.S. Kansas Federation Championship (a long time ago!) after day one.  However, I lost that tournament (finished 2nd) because on day two my best friend beat me.  How?  He found a spot where he caught 21 keeper bass (keeper bass means 15” or longer!) on 22 casts…!!!  No that is not a misprint…21 bass 15” or bigger on 22 consecutive casts…!!!   When Melvern Reservoir was built they stocked the lake by building and stocking ponds that flooded when the lake filled up.   Steve found a “school” of fish located on one of those deep submerged pond dams flooded so many years ago.

NOTE: Yes…Steve willingly shared with me where his special pond dam was…yes, I still know exactly where the dam is located…yes I could go straight to it today…NO, I’m not telling you…!  But…nice try…!

Okay…so here we are at Old Moline City Lake and…you guessed it…we found a school of bass.  To make matters even better…then were feeding in shallow water…!  And I mean a LOT of them were “busting” shad up shallow…just like they do on large reservoirs and it was in the middle of the day.  Nothing…and I mean NOTHING is better than that.

Then it happened. 

Since we were fishing from Jim’s boat he was up front running the trolling motor.  I was not the captain of this ship…he was…and he wanted to be sure I got to see the entire lake.  So he did what any person guiding a site seeing boat does…he continued down the bank until eventually we were on the opposite side of the lake of the fish. 

NO…I’m SERIOUS…!  We went to the opposite side of the lake!  Really! 

At first it started slowly…just a little “dry mouth”.  Then came the sweating followed closely by the shakes.  By the time we were on the other side of the lake I was almost hyperventilating.  (For my golfing buddies…hyperventilating means shallow rapid breathing)  For the rest of my “fans”…sorry I had to digress but if you knew my golfing buddies you would understand!

Any way…I kept hoping I was going to wake up…you know…just having a bad dream.  Nope…no such luck…it wasn’t a dream it was a NIGHTMARE…!  So bad did this affect me I was soon forced to return to seeing my therapist.  Me…the “Hemmingway of Blogs” having to see a therapist…again…! 

Well…as you will see in the video…when we finally (and I mean FINALLY) returned to where the fish were…they were (drum roll please)…GONE…! 

So the entire experience has left  me trembling.  You see one thing I learned when fishing tournaments for all those years was, “Never Leave Fish to Find Fish…Ever”.  For me the whole thing is about “catching”…the ”fishing” part can wait…it’s all about the “catching” once you have found them. 

Let me put my feelings in terms everyone can understand.  I have heard hundreds of people say they would rather catch one bass on top water than 10 with any other technique.  You might be one of those people.  I understand as well as anyone the excitement of a top water strike.  But… (Drum roll please)…not me.  

Hello…I would rather catch the 10 fish.  I don’t really care “how”’s all about “how many”.

Truth is I had a great time…truth is Jim is a great guy and a really good fisherman…truth is we had a great day…caught a lot of fish…and kept my “streak” alive at 16-consecutive lakes  without being skunked…truth is we will probably do it again someday. 

But…truth is…(drum roll please)…it will be in my boat…! 

Until next time…go fishing…catch a lot…keep some to eat…return back the rest.

Clay Dixon
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