Take a slower approach and don’t run away from your fish
For the Record
Capt. Chuck Uzzle
Fishing too fast is a common problem that many anglers have, especially when the
fish tend to gather up and school in big bunches. Saltwater anglers who chase
schooling fish along with freshwater fishermen who also key in on flocks of
birds over hungry groups of stripers, hybrids, and whites are perhaps the worst.
The frenzied activity puts everyone on the boat in high gear often leaving the
majority of the water column untouched. It’s a proven fact that smaller more
aggressive fish will be the first to attack a bait so consequently the “speed
fisherman” may never see what caliber of fish is really down under the surface.
Savvy anglers will let a bait get down under the surface melee and are more
often than not rewarded with better quality fish. Saltwater enthusiasts often
find better speckled trout and redfish down under all the small trout hustling
shrimp and shad near the surface. By allowing the smaller fish to hit the bait
and not setting the hook anglers can get down past the smaller fish to where the
big boys play. Some anglers will actually crawl their baits along the bottom
with very little action and catch some of the best fish out there, it’s
difficult to do but well worth the effort.
By taking the time to patiently work a school of fish with a slower retrieve and
perhaps a little larger bait anglers can effectively cull out smaller fish. The
smaller fish will peck at the larger baits while the better fish will usually
strike them with a little more gusto. This slightly different approach proves
itself out in some of the strangest ways. Think about how many times you have
caught a fish while dragging bait and correcting a backlash, it makes you
wonder. If we could see the baits we are fishing with underwater we would see
how little of the actual area we are fishing, most of the time it’s less than 2
feet deep. Burning a lure at a high speed has it’s applications but it’s awful
hard to argue with the success that the slower approach produces.
Speaking of slower approaches one that comes to mind is dropping anchor on
drifts instead of dropping buoy markers. In years past we would make long drifts
down Sabine Lake, catch some fish, and repeat the drift only to catch fish in
basically the same area. It was fishing on an escalator; you just went round and
round until the fish quit biting. One day while fishing on Calcasieu I got
schooled on a better way to go about this process from a local fisherman. We
were both fishing the same area only we were going about it differently. The
local guy was sitting on anchor while I continued to make drift after drift on
the same line. After about 3 passes I hear the local guy say to his buddy in the
boat “that guy has a beautiful boat, it’s a shame he couldn’t afford an anchor”.
After that encounter I decided to try fishing like the locals and it has paid
big dividends. If you watch these guys they keep the anchor real handy, one or
two bites in the same area and they ease the anchor overboard and fish the area
thoroughly. Usually these patient fishermen wind up catching more fish while
others who continue to drift just miss out on the action. I am sold on the
technique because it works; we really use it in the spring down on the south end
Taking the slower approach one step farther by learning how to properly anchor
in places where you may be in deeper water can be critical to success. One day
many years ago Capt. Dickie Colburn and I were fishing a stretch of the Sabine
River where we knew a herd of Redfish had been hanging around. For some reason
we couldn’t find them until we adjusted our position on the anchor by letting
out about 30 feet of line and slipping right into the perfect spot. Our
adjustment put us into casting range but kept us off the big concentration of
fish; any other set up would result in either spooking the fish or not getting
bit and both of those options don’t sound good at all. By adjusting our position
we were able to cast over a submerged point where the redfish were ganged up
escaping the current. The extra rooms on our casts finally allowed the bait to
reach the fish that we knew were there, we were just off the mark by a few feet.
Sometimes that few feet can be the difference between a great day and a zero.
During the coming months your patience and abilities will be tested not only by
other anglers but by the elements and the fish as well. A more controlled
approach will pay huge dividends as the crowds descend on the bays this summer.
It never fails this time of year, everybody hears about how good the fishing is
and how easy it is to catch fish so the thundering herd collapses on the coast.
Regular anglers know this is coming so they adjust accordingly and make due
until the crowds cease. Remember there are plenty of fish out there for everyone
so stay clam and patient because fishing is our sanctuary and the actions of
someone else should never be allowed to ruin that. Enjoy the fishing and the
weather and be sure to share the outdoors with someone who may not know just how
wonderful it really is.