Understanding patterns help anglers score more fish
Cutline: Finding fish by understanding the variables keeps every fisherman interested.
Capt. Chuck Uzzle
For the Record
One of the biggest and most intriguing factors that keep fishermen coming back
day after day is the process of discovery, figuring out the puzzle so to speak.
The task of sifting through all the variables and making sense out of all the
factors in order to establish a pattern is what drives many anglers. Unknowingly
we all go through the same process every time we fish but without the fanfare.
Most of us don’t realize we are even doing it, establishing a pattern, but just
as sure as water is wet we are doing exactly that.
Now there are way more folks who fall into the category of “routine” fishermen
than those who actually take the time to go about establishing a solid pattern.
The guy who hooks his boat up, launches at the same launch, fishes the same
spots, and throws the same bait trip after trip is a “routine” fisherman. The
law of averages eventually rewards this guy with a good trip or two, just enough
hope and success to keep him coming back day after day. Now I can’t tell you
what the “routine” fisherman does is wrong because different folks have
different goals and expectations. If “routine” fisherman has a good time on the
water and enjoys his trip then more power to him, but there is much more out
there see and a whole lot more fish to be caught.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the technique of establishing a pattern I
ever heard of was demonstrated by a very accomplished guide on Sam Rayburn by
the name of Will Kirkpatrick. Will actually taught classes on fishing and showed
anglers how to apply the techniques he taught. One of the best ones was “how to
establish a pattern”. Anglers in the class were given a stack of 3 x 5 note
cards before they went out to fish. On the cards the anglers were to write down
a variety of information every time they got a bite or caught a fish. Water
depth, surrounding structure, water temp, lure, retrieve speed, and so on were
all noted by each angler. At lunch or dinner that evening the anglers were to
bring their stack of cards and start sorting through them. Little by little each
card was put into a stack until they were all done. It was amazing at the end of
the sorting process how each angler could now physically put their hand on one
stack, that was usually the largest, and see exactly what the common
denominators were in their pattern. This process is what we as anglers need to
be able to do mentally in order to narrow down the options and realize just
exactly what the pattern is for that specific day.
Okay so now you understand the method of how to decipher the pattern, the only
question is “how do I get started?” A few basic questions first come to mind
that should shed some light on the subject. First one has to be about things you
cannot control, meaning weather conditions. Weather obviously plays a huge
factor in determining your strategy for that days trip on the water. For
arguments sake we are going to make weather a non-factor, it’s drop dead perfect
conditions and no water is off limits due to bad winds or other limiting
factors. The next uncontrollable factor has to be tides, either you have them or
you don’t, no in between. Tidal movement will certainly influence your approach
and should determine where and how you start your day.
A truly dialed in pattern is a thing of beauty and helps to promote confidence
in any angler. When you step on a boat to go fish with your buddy or a guide and
they tell you something is going to happen and as soon as you stop at the right
spot it starts then it seems as if everything in the world is right. The more
skilled you become at putting these pieces together and being able to decipher
the puzzle the more enjoyable your trips on the water will become. Don’t become
a creature of habit, take the clues you are given and put them in order in a
very simple and basic fashion and watch what happens. The results become much
more predictable and your time on the water becomes much more pleasant as your
results get better with each and every trip. It’s always been said “knowledge is
power” , the more you know the better off you are.