If anglers only knew how many fish they pass up, many would give up fishing.
Today's fishermen are better than ever. We have more information, more techniques and better equipment than any previous generation. But the fish still win more times than their human pursuers.
While that's probably a good thing -- who wants fishing to be easy? -- it nevertheless is frustrating. The fact is the fish usually are pretty much where good anglers think they are. Getting them to bite is the challenge.
A crappie angler dabbling minnows next to brush may miss his quarry by a foot. Walleye anglers drifting over sandy flats may go without a strike if their baits fail to tick the bottom. And a bass fisherman may fail to tease a fish out of the fork of a fallen tree if his worm makes too much of a splash.
While it's true that fishing is all about location, it's also a fact that many anglers are good at knowing where to find them.
So when they fail to hook up, the temptation too often is to fire up the big motor and go looking for new real estate. The solution instead often is right under their noses.
Say you are pretty sure you are around the fish even though you have nothing to show for your efforts. What can you do to change your luck?
First, make sure your lure is doing what it is supposed to do. Are you hitting the bottom and ricocheting off stumps? Is your trolled bait fouled? Are your presentations precise and on target?
Second, change colors. Sometimes the crappies want a chartreuse jig even though they bit the pink ones yesterday. Bass may ignore a blue worm but gobble a green pumpkin. Walleye sometimes are fussy about a chrome plug but attack gold with a vengeance.
Third, try a different lure. If the bass are finning their noses at your spinnerbait, try a Rat-L-Trap. Or you can sweeten your jig with a couple of maggots to tempt the crappies.
Sometimes, of course, nothing will work. But more often than not, a change in your tactics or presentation can save the day.
It's often as simple as this: If you want different results, do something different.