It’s funny how we have a tendency as anglers to sometimes go with what has worked in the past or is comfortable over adapting to the situation at hand. This could be hitting the same spots on which you previously caught fish, throwing the same bait that offered positive results or sticking to a strategy that worked once or twice.
When competing in tournaments, I try to dictate what I throw according to the weather condition. Like a spinnerbait on a windy, overcast day or a finesse technique under high pressure, there are personal truths that an angler carries from experience on the water. The reason I wouldn’t call it an absolute truth is because there are always exceptions to the rule and for every angler these ideals may be different. Like our go-to baits, we also become conditioned to particular line sizes for a specific technique; unfortunately, just like bait choice there are exceptions to the rule.
Some may not agree, but I prefer to use a lighter line when fishing if I can get away with it. For example, I have often preferred to fish with 15-17 pound test most often with a jig or flipping bait. I do this because the smaller line size makes for a smoother pitch with less friction. However, I learned an important lesson last year on Kerr Lake that will have me changing my mindset going forward.
During the official practice day, I caught numerous fish on the jig without any issues, and it made me feel good about using it on the first of the two-day VA Elite 70 Classic. When Day 1 began, I quickly began getting bites fishing shoreline rock in various water depths. I missed the first bite, but on the second bite I set the hook with good contact. After a few turns of the reel, my rod went limp and my jig was gone. I hastily tied on another jig, painted another trailer and rigged it perfectly on the hook. I had the confidence in my knot and the heightened awareness that comes from an upsetting break, achieving the desired cast right on target. The next bite was in the boat…!
I worked my bait over a rock and felt it slide down the plane facing the boat. Resting the jig for a couple seconds, I felt the bump, reeled in what little slack the line had, and quickly set the hook; this time, breaking the fish off on hookset. This was when I finally got over the stubborness and learned my lesson.
Frustrated to say the least, I unspooled the fluorocarbon on my rod as fast as I could and replaced with fresh, 20 pound Seaguar fluorocarbon. I failed to lose a fish thereafter, proof that I was letting my comfort overrule the knowledge of the terrain I was fishing. Rocks, wood and other cover will leave your line with nicks that may not be visible to the naked eye, especially with terrible vision like mine. Although you may not hook up on every cast, your line is often coming over gnarly cover. Running your fingers across the line just above the bait helps you feel for abrasion, but a safety precaution extremely easy to forget under when anticipating your next move.
No matter how rushed you feel, take the time to re-tie, or in the case of my day on Kerr Lake, respool. Line is expensive, but a lost kicker fish can be even more costly.
Thank you for taking the time to learn with me! Stay tuned for more action as we get closer to the first event of the year. In other news, The Richmond Fishing Expo is taking place at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, VA this weekend. Make sure to come check out some great local tackle, deals, seminars and tank demonstrations. Stop by the Reelsnot booth so I can hook you up with the best line conditioner on the market. I’ll be there both Saturday and Sunday.