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Don't Leave Fish to Find Fish

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

This old adage seems like common sense (which it is), but there’s more to it than its meaning at face value. If fish are hitting your baits left and right, it’s fair to say that very few people would ever consider moving or doing anything differently. But the saying rings truest in the gray areas. You’ve caught a couple of fish, nothing is really jumping out as a major pattern, and so you decide to try an entirely new area or technique. Not so fast.

Be Purposeful

While switching spots may end up being a good strategy, it’s important to have a REASON to switch spots. Don’t just walk upriver for the sake of finding something different. Don’t bring your boat to the other side of the lake just to see if there are more fish there. If you have in fact caught a fish or two, picking up and throwing that experience away is silly. The fish are there, you just haven’t fully cracked the code yet.

When you’re in these situations, I encourage you not to try something completely different, but to try to iterate on what you’ve seen so far. Your first two fish came at the tailout of a pool on a Royal Wulff? Try the same type of tailout with an emerger pattern instead… maybe the fish were rising and looking to the surface, but your Wulff was riding a little too high for their liking. Or, maybe the Wulff is the ticket- but instead of the tailout, fish are holding at the head of the pool, where a similar food-funneling effect takes place, just at the opposite side of the deep water. This is a situation where moving makes sense, but the move is not random. The move is calculated, based on the fact that fish were holding in a place where current funnels food right to their nose. While the head of a pool is a different type of spot, it shares some key qualities with the tailout- it is a change in current speed where food gets funneled into a specific feeding zone. Are we sensing a trend?

That sort of scientific, testing-first approach is what makes fishing so much fun. It’s about more than just catching fish. It’s about solving the puzzle. Being analytical and intentional in your decision-making will help you do both.

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