Now that’s a saying I’m sure we’ve all heard a time or two. In fact, I bet most, if not all, of us have said it ourselves! “What are they biting?” If only this age old question was easily answered. The problem is conditions are always changing, fish are moving, and what worked yesterday or even a few minutes ago may not be working now.
I once heard a tackle shop owner answer this question, and I’ll never forget what he said. When asked “What are they biting?” he said “Look at what’s on the walls.” His point was that all lures catch fish. Sure there are lures that work consistently at specific times throughout the year, but we must always be ready to adapt when that go to lure just isn’t producing like we were hoping it would.
Now this is easier said than done. How many of us go to a lake in the spring with intentions of throwing a jerkbait for walleye, and then spend all night throwing our go to lure without a nibble? We’ve all done it at one time or another. This year I really worked on forcing myself to change when things weren’t working out like I wanted them to. I wasn’t always successful when making these changes, but I sure learned a lot when experimenting with change. It also made it easier for me to make changes in the future which has turned out very well. I can now say that I’ve got onto a pattern of pausing a suspending jerkbait for over 30 seconds, which can be an absolutely excruciating way to fish! Now if only I could summon the patience for a minute long pause!
That ability to adapt is what really starts to evolve an angler’s skill level in my opinion. I recently watched a show where professional bass angler Greg Hackney was talking about this subject. He said his favorite thing about bass fishing is solving the puzzle of what the bass are keying in on that day. In fact, once he solves that puzzle, instead of taking advantage and hammering fish the rest of the day, he packs it up and heads for home as he doesn’t feel like he has anything more to prove. Now I can’t say that I do the same thing, but it sure was interesting to hear that sort of philosophy coming from an elite bass angler.
When you start diving into adaptability you begin down the never ending rabbit hole of gaining knowledge, trying new techniques, experimenting with different baits, dialing in your equipment, becoming a better caster, and the list goes on and on. This is what makes fishing such an exciting sport!
– Scott Brands