Slow days provide valuable lessons

I went fishing last weekend and didn’t catch much. It was a pretty tepid day, when it was all said and done, considering the fish had been in a pretty busy mood the previous trip.

Some would say that most-recent excursion was a failure. I don’t think so.

As a matter of fact, I learned a lot even though I didn’t touch many fish. The five bass that I did land all helped underscore a few pertinent bits of information.

Most important, last Sunday’s trip reminded me that every day is different. There are easy days. There are tough days. And there are the days when whatever one might try, there will be almost zero response.

Sunday was a tough day. The wind was whipping out of the northwest, and whitecaps splashed most of the good stuff I wanted to work. What few areas I found fishable were just not very conducive to holding a number of bass.

But even on tough days, there are ways to induce a few strikes. That was lesson No. 2.

I guessed the fish had slowed down their activity to ride out the transition in weather. So I backed off my pace, too. A methodical, pick-it-apart approach resulted in the five bites I did manage to entice.

Lesson No. 3 was about the wind.

I am a big believer that an angler needs to play the wind as an ally. Breezes often are among the primary factors in determining where the fish are located and what they are doing in those locations.

Working the conditions that the wind creates as it stirs up activity can be crucial in a fishing day. But Sunday the wind was not a friend. It was a detriment, too much of a potentially good thing. It riled the water and put the fish in a hiding mood instead of wanting to stay on the hunt.

But even that negative was the key to unraveling the day’s mysteries.

When I found areas where the wind was evident, but not overpowering in its presence, I was able to tease a bass or two. The moving air created just enough disturbance in the water to let the fish feel secure in moving around, but not so much that they swam for shelter.

The productive spots were areas where the wind was helping — few though they were — that intersected spots with favorable cover.

The main takeaway last week was this: Don’t force-feed the fish the same menu that worked last time. Those who stubbornly think they’ll eventually prevail with tactics that are out of tune with the day will go home unhappy.

Likewise, those who aren’t willing to broaden their knowledge with new techniques will fail on days when their tried-and-true is off the mark.

Every day is different. Go with a plan, but with an open mind. Be ready to adjust while the day is still young and more often than not you will convert potential failure into a satisfactory outcome.

A few fish, after all, is better than none — and avoiding the zeroes is high on my fishing wish list.

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