Every angler's day on the water is an experience with a microcosm.
Even small lakes and rivers are full of little systems that comprise the whole, and no single angler can explore all of them in eight or 10 hours of fishing.
The degree with which we succeed in dealing with those small parts of the watery world is our indicator of whether we've had a good day or a bad one.
Our ability to read and interpret the signals we pick up on the tiny fraction of the water immediately around us provides the clues we convert into tactics to catch fish. Without question, different anglers will see different sets of circumstances.
What surprises many people is the variety of approaches that will produce results on any given day. As a student of and competitor in bass tournaments, I have many opportunities to learn how what I've chosen to do on the water compares to the tactics employed by others.
My most recent experience with the fact that fish in different areas of an ecosystem respond to different techniques occurred a week ago on the Ohio River.
Twenty-three anglers - all of them pretty good bass fishermen - took off early last Sunday to see how many smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass they could catch. Eight and a half hours later, they were back at the dock, comparing notes and weighing their catches to determine who had won the tournament.
A casual listener would understandably have been confused. One fellow related how crankbaits produced. Another chattered about success with tube baits. Still another reported the topwater action was good.
But a careful listener could recognize what happened. The anglers who succeeded and found keeper bass that day were those who read the water and selected lures and presentations that fit their circumstances most effectively and efficiently.
Dave Williams won the event with a five-bass limit catch - all taken on fast-moving lures. "Couldn't get a bite on tubes or jigs," he told those with ears cocked in his direction.
The runnerup took his bass two ways. In the morning, he splashed a Pop-R over points and flats and picked up a pair of smallies. Later, he found chunky largemouths willing to eat Texas-rigged tubes in cover.
Both anglers solved the puzzle last Sunday. Both faced different pieces of the pie - microcosms where the fishes' worlds dictated their behavior and how they would respond to the anglers' tactics.
My point is this: Those who learn to read their water and tinker with techniques to fool the fish will consistently enjoy more action.
Fairy tale season
Dale and Dianne Grimm of Lordstown won the championship tournament Sept. 21-22 in Western Reserve Walleye Association's Summer Series at Berlin and Mosquito. They also earned the season points championship.
The Grimms started the event at Berlin with 6.5 pounds of walleyes and on Sunday at Mosquito added 5.68 pounds for a two-day haul weighing 12.18 pounds. Their seven fish earned them $840.
They trolled with lead-core line and mono on planer boards and used a variety of crankbaits, including Shad Raps, Rattle Shads, A.C. Shiners, Reef Runner Little Rippers and Big O's. The Grimms are sponsored by Haines Marine, Lund boats and Mercury outboards.
Second-place team was Keith Walters of New Middletown and Terry Hovance of Champion. They had four 'eyes at Berlin on the first day to lead with 8.08 pounds, but added only three keepers at Mosquito to finish with 11.78 pounds.
The biggest walleye of the event was a 4.04-pounder caught by Kenny Abernathy and Nathan Marcini of Ravenna.