Every bass angler has a confidence bait, or sometimes two or three. It is his “go to” bait when the bass won’t seem to bite anything else. It has become his favorite because he grew up throwing it or because he first tried it on a day when the fishing was tough and it produced.
Using a confidence bait gives you a psychological boost, and that’s important when the bite is slow--- maybe more important than the bait itself. It heightens your concentration and makes you more eager to fish. It makes you more attentive to where you are casting and to detecting subtle bites. In short, throwing a confidence bait makes you a better angler.
Secret: If you don’t have a confidence bait, work on developing a couple. You’ll be a better bass angler for it.
But also don’t forget that many, many variables play into whether a bass is going to bite your bait. Some we understand. Some we think that we understand. And some we don’t even know about. That watery world below the surface is so different from ours that we simply can not know it in the same way that we know our air environment.
Once in awhile, we really do catch bass because we have chosen the “right” bait. Other times, they hit because they are in an aggressive, feeding mode, or because we have found a concentration of fish that stirs itself into a competitive frenzy when a lure passes through. During such times, just about anything in your tackle box might work.
Secret: So, when you are catching bass on a confidence bait (or a new lure that you just bought at the store), pay attention to more than just what is tied on the end of your line, its color, and the way it moves in the water. Look at water depth and clarity. Determine where the bites occur in relation to cover, structure, and current. Note the weather conditions and wind direction.
In other words, benefit from the “confidence” that throwing a favorite bait gives you, but also be smart enough to realize that bass probably aren’t biting it because it’s your favorite or because it is vastly superior to others. Likely, they are biting because of a complex combination of favorable variables, of which the lure is just one.
(The above is from my first book, Better Bass Fishing. It is filled with content that will make you a better angler, from revealing how weather affects fish and fishing to bass behavior, patterns, and techniques. My recent book, Why We Fish, is more a celebration of the joy that fishing brings. It is a collection of essays, most of them by me. But Bill Dance, Dave Precht, Teeg Stouffer, Kathy Magers, Steve Chaconas, and others also contributed.)
Up in Alaska, politicians are being lured to surrender a wild salmon fishery to a coal company. It promises that it can remove the stream to mine 300 feet down and then, once strip mining is done, put it back together again as good as new, with functioning surface and groundwater systems.
A former commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game insists that it can’t be done.
“I can tell you from my experience and the experience of stream restoration efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest, this proposal to remove the Middle Fork of the Chuitna River for 25 years and then put it back together as a wild salmon stream is a pipe dream; it will not work,” Frank Rue says unequivocally.
Furthermore, he adds, if PacificRim Coal is allowed to proceed, it will signal that Alaska intends to follow the Pacific Northwest, New England, Canada, and Europe in replacing its wild salmon runs with artificial propagation in the name of progress.
“If the decision is made to mine the site, we can assume that the mining company’s restoration will eventually stabilize the land and the drainage patterns, and maybe leave behind lakes and wetlands with pike and stickleback, but the lost wild salmon productivity of the Middle Fork will be permanent. Is that where Alaska wants to go?”
He adds, “This paradigm shift will shape resource decisions across the state for generations to come. It’s Alaska’s choice: Do we reserve water in our streams to support our wild, sustainable salmon, or do we sacrifice our wild salmon habitat for a one-time use of a non-renewable resource and follow the lead of others who have decimated their wild salmon?
Alaskans have until April 9 to weigh in on the debate with the Department of Natural Resources. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.
. . . as well as other life lessons in Fish, Frogs, And Fireflies--- Growing Up With Nature, a collection of essays and short stories by Robert Montgomery, along with 13 other contributors.