The mindset of an angler

For those of you who haven’t fished with me I thought I’d share a small conversation I have with our customers. Beyond catching fish on the trip I want customers to become better anglers and hope to transfer some of what I’ve learned by fishing nearly everyday.

Too often as anglers we’re looking for that “Lights Out” bite. You hear it and read about it all the time; Fish were SNAPPING BOYS!! We were RIP JIGGING……. Let’s be honest here. In my opinion, fisherman that consistently come dockside with a box of Walleyes are probably very versed at targeting and catching the neutral to negative fish. Fish have windows of activity and day to day this window is open and shut. Sometimes the window is open all day……but rarely. We’ll ALL catch the aggressive fish right? So consider this mindset the next time you are heading out to your favorite lake. Plan on the fish being a bit tough. Plan on having to think outside the box. Forget about that time 8 years ago before a storm when fish jumped in the boat for you. Erase the memory if only for the day when 38 years ago you and Grandpa drilled the tank fish on that spot. Fishing memories are dangerous when it comes to today’s angling. Again bites like this are RARE my friends, and precisely why you still remember them. For the past week we’ve frankly been on the toughest bite I’ve seen all summer. I’ve pulled my baseball cap off and scratched my head while muttering things to my Humminbird on multiple occassions. “WHERE ARE YOU FISH” “ODD” Things like this. I am competitive by nature and don’t like a “Hotdog with fins beating me”.  The fish are currently full or just darn right grumpy. My “Milkrun” spots have nearly been VOID of fish. Fish are in very odd locations. I’d estimate based on what I’m viewing on my Humminbird, that we’re fishing 10% of the fish in an area. What I mean is a big percentage of those fish are seemingly sitting in “No-Mans Land” on some sort of fish vacation. We’ve all seen it; Those big hooks in 50-70ft of water. You CAN’T target them responsibly. Fish often times suspend deep during inclimate weather, or when they are simply not in a feeding mood. They COULD…….COULD be pounding the Ciscoes as well. Really hard to say without it simply being an opinion. So what we’ve dealt with is a reduced pod of Walleyes holding on fishable structure. THOSE fish that we have located have been rather fussy as well. Each year Walleye anglers will go through a stretch like this, and frankly it doesn’t matter the fishery. Rainy Lake……one of the BEST, but only a fool will lead you to believe the fishing is “Cake Angling”. I watch many experienced Walleye anglers step from their boat back dockside with a shamed look upon their face as they throw 2 walleyes and a small pike in the net heading to the cleaning shack.

SO……What are your options? Play Cards…..Lawn Darts……Labatt’s pile up?? Many options I guess. For the guys that want to catch fish…..Let’s talk about making it happen when most anglers are NOT. MIND YOU….You may need to walk on the darkside for a moment. Open your mind.

I mentioned earlier that I try get my customers up to speed on what we’ll be fishing on the ride out. If it’s lights out I’ll just say…….HANG ON we’ll light them up!! If it’s tough I’ll carefully depict precisely how we need to fish to have success. As a fishing guide you #1 job is to get your customers in the best mindset and big fish playground you possbly can. You CANNOT shoot the fish, so these fish are going to have to eat in your 8 hour run. I’ve always felt customers learn much more from a fishing guide in tough conditions. You can watch as your guide breaks down a pattern, and reads structure. When he’s scratching his head…….He’s NOT BEAT, but having to dig in to try make it happen for you. It is here where you will learn something you probably don’t already know about that fishery. He’s going to the well of knowledge to try put a bend in your rod.

Yesterday again was one of those days. We left the resort with multiple anglers muttering things like “Mayflies” and “Tough Bite” “Fishing was TOUGH”…..And so on. NOT a confidence builder for my customers. Still I told my guests that we’ve been averaging 30-40 Walleyes a day despite the conditions. Pretty decent considering some of those guys barking had caught 3 walleyes in the previous 2 days of fishing.

LESS IS MORE!! SAY IT AND COMPREHEND WHAT IT MEANS. This is something I’ll commonly try explain to customers. I think guys and gals are often SO AMPED up for the trip they think they’ll make fish bite. I will keep jigging and ripping until something rips this rod out of my hand. BTW……..NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. You will effectively scare every negative and neutral to Canada. BTW the Neutral is NOT a dig on Canada. Talking fish…….SETTLE DOWN.

Jig fishing………YEP we’re catching our fish jig fishing. I’m crazy that way. Most anglers think you’ll have to long line a lindy rig and let them crap out a crawler before you can set the hook in a tough bite. Well the truth of the matter is a 3/16 oz. H20 Precision jig with either a crawler or fathead will turn even the grumpiest fish when fished precisely how those fish demand it.

First off you have to stay within the “Wheelhouse” of the fish. If your 8 feet of the bottom or LAYING on the bottom your going to have a tough day, and might as well call grandma to get the Lawn darts out of the cabin. Those fish aren’t coming up for you and aren’t scooping your presentation from the floor of Rainy Lake. You simply are exercising your casting shoulder. Slack line in your retrieve….NOPE……Not going to work. You need to elevate your game and set down your beef stick during this process to capture the fish that really don’t need to eat.

First off this is NOT about equipment, but in all honesty I’ll outfish you with my JT JTX in a bite like this if you are fishing a lesser quality graphite bland. I PROMISE. There are times that equipment is hyped too much, but this……… isn’t one of them. I place a value on equipment based soley on how I belive it will increase my overall production. This……NO BRAINER. I lace up a JT JTX because it is the best suited rod in detecting and lacing up big fish in tough conditions. I will tell you 50 yards behind the boat when my 3/16 oz. jig goes from the clay to the start of the small rubble pile. It’s my Magic stick!!

OK….You’ve worked your way through this post to get here. TENSION BITES. Some anglers already know precisely what I’m going to talk about. I can fish with my eyes closed and hold a conversation with you and then rip a big fish 60 yards behind the boat that many anglers will never know was there. Walleye anglers that are versed with pitching jigs in deep water understand what they are tyring to dectect or really don’t. If your the guy that feels for the bite on 3 or 4 pulls while watching your rod tip……Your NOT going to catch many fish in tough conditions. That fish will detect you before you detect the fish. The game is very simple…THE FIRST TIME that fish feels you she should experience a fin curling barb ripped into her mouth. DO NOT give her 3 or 4 chances to dump your presentation with a lead head. If you’ve brought your favorite “Ugly Stick” for this bite……..GOOD LUCK my friends. Nope you MIGHT not be able to break it in the trash compactor…….And that is too bad. A tension bite is what an angler detects when your jig feels like it was swimming through water and then to transfers into syrup. The Walleye has frankly inhaled your bait, but is swimming with you. You need to VERY quickly gain some tension on that fish and set yourself for a strong set. What you often feel is simply a very very slight weight or tension difference from your simple jig. Nuetral fish will blow out your presentation before most anglers ever realize what happened. This is precisely why I watch anglers rods. I had a customer say the otherday Chris knows when I’ve got a fish before I do. LOL!! If I say set it…..SET IT. The guy that can detect and effectively lace up this bite……WILL BE THE GUY WITH A BOX OF EYES AT THE DOCK EVEN IN TOUGH CONDITIONS. Again this is NOT about the spot or lake. This is a seasoned jig fisherman sharing what it takes to lace up big numbers of Walleyes when most everyone else…….IS NOT.

Yesterday again pretty tough conditions. Yet we boxed a 12 fish limit of eyes. 10 of those fish were 16-16.75 inches just under the 17 inch throwback. 2 of those fish were smaller 13’s. The Dockboy said as I walked by…..”They always get em” LOL!! NOPE……BUT WE TRY.

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