Important lessons from an ancient hunter | News, sports, jobs

By my count, I’ve gone fishing more than a thousand times in my adult life, so one might guess that I’ve learned a thing or two about the ways of the crafty fish I target and how I can lure them into nibbling on my baits. .

I was thinking about this topic last week as I was setting up the 14 rods I store under the Bass Cat deck. Each rod serves a purpose – like the clubs in a golfer’s bag – so they are equipped with the right line for the task and the lures that fit the task.

It takes an hour and a half before each fishing trip to sort out the chaos of the previous eight hours on the lake. It’s a job that also gives me a little time to think about where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Along the way, I think about important questions like whether to buy more bait, when I’ll go fishing next, and what I’ve learned over the past 50 years.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, but represents some lessons that readers may find interesting.

For example, a fishing trip is not a waste of time. If you have the opportunity to go fishing, but the weather isn’t ideal or you’re sneezing, go to the lake and work on that problem. Some of my best fishing lessons have been learned when I’ve had to put adversity aside and make the most of a difficult situation.

The whole cast is important. I’ve learned through tournament experiences that every time I put my bait in the water, there’s a chance a fish will eat it. I can remember many times when my jig was submerged in a brush pile or weed patch and a fish I wasn’t expecting surprised me.

This leads to the next tip: Don’t get distracted. Daydreaming hunters may spot gliding eagles, drinking deer and strutting turkeys, but they may also miss a slithering minnow, a quivering line, or the fins of a feeding minnow.

Even with many decades of hunting days stored under my hat, I can still succumb to complacency. In the past month alone, I can think of three times when I’ve cast my bait, looked ahead toward the next target and returned my attention to my cast only to discover that the line has “swim” ten feet from where I cast it.

Each fish is a clue in the daily puzzle. Don’t just hook those fish and boat them; Rather, consider where the fish is in relation to cover or structure, water depth and color, position of sun and shadows, current, wind speed, cloud cover and other conditions.

Was the bite subtle or aggressive? Was he on the landing or the elevator? Close to the boat or far? Fast or slow recovery? The answers to all these questions and more are clues that can make your next hunt come sooner.

Big fish will bite when you least expect it. In my experience, it is possible to pattern a large fish, but it is also possible for an oversized specimen to come in without a hint or warning. I’ve caught large walleye while weeding hammerknob-sized fish and large bass in the middle of a ridge. Also consider crappie anglers whose fishing tackle has been destroyed by monster muskie.

The lure does not need wiggling tips and wiggling tails. For years, I’ve been convinced that the best soft plastic lures are wavy like a hula jig. But then along came the Sluggos, Senkos, and Ned worms and that theory flew out the window.

No color is too flashy. I’ve never seen a parrot-colored baitfish, but these neon red, striped, blue and yellow crankbaits will put a lot of bass in my boat. Then we have the poorly named “monkey puke” spoons beloved by walleye anglers and even the colorful lure maker “Sammy the Bull” named after walleye pro Sammy Cappelli from Poland.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot, forgotten even more, and leave you with one final learning: The best time to go fishing is any time you can.

Jack Wolitz’s book “The Average Fisherman” is a collection of stories that explain why anglers are so passionate about fishing. Send a note to

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