FISHING WITH KENNY: FISHING ON INSTINCT
Article by Kenny Covington
TO KNOW THE OWL STUDY THE MOUSE
—NATIVE AMERICAN ADAGE
My disdain for modern technology in fishing is well documented. I don’t believe it is good for the sport, just as I also believe the price of modern-day equipment is turning bass fishing into a rich man’s game. However, there are other aspects concerning the usage of technology that is being overlooked, and over the course of the last few years, through my own observations, I believe to be just as important. My question: “Is modern technology having a negative effect on the growth of our sport, especially when it comes to our younger anglers?” My answer is “yes.”
The younger generation of anglers I compete against are experts when it comes reading their electronics. Knowing what buttons to push, when to push them, as well as being able to dissect what their graphs are telling them. Their knowledge of this sort of equipment is nothing short of astonishing. But it is their addiction to this technology that I believe is the real problem and in the long run will hurt them in their development as true anglers.
I have heard all the arguments, just as I have read all the articles arguing the merits of the advanced technology from Garmin LiveScope to Humminbird 360 and everything in between. “If you aren’t embracing the newest and best technology, you are going to get left behind.” I wish I had a dollar for every time a LiveScope owner said that to me. This dependence on technology is staggering and I don’t believe bodes well for the future of our sport.
There is a small window where I do believe the better LiveScopers and tech savvy anglers have an advantage over the competition. On lakes such as Caney or Claiborne, during the coldest parts of winter and at times during the heat of the summer, you aren’t getting beat by a better angler, a lure or a discovered technique, you are getting beat by someone’s ability to read a graph. This is not a jealous observation, it’s just a simple truth. By now you are probably asking yourself, “just what is Kenny’s point?”
I grew up fishing during a time when the best anglers were the ones who had a knack for catching fish no matter where they went. They knew about weather conditions, seasonal adjustments, what to look for on certain bodies of water. All the tricks of the trade that made them successful were a result of two things: having been taught by someone else or by spending a lot of time on the water, learning on their own. Often it was the latter, not the former.
I have tournament records I have kept from as far back as thirty-five years ago. Dates, events, time of year, lures, winning weights, time of day, types of cover and even more data most would ever believe. While I am not as meticulous about my record keeping as I once was, I keep them. The more information I have at my disposal before I leave for the lake, the more effective I can be once I get on the water.
I know what to do when the wind changes direction or when it starts to rain in the fall. I know what to do when it snows in early December just like I know what to do when you have a week of warm weather in January. I know the times of year when bass are more subject to feed on bream than they are crawfish or shad. I know what lakes to fish boat docks as compared to what lakes you need to turn you trolling motor on high in order to go past the boat docks to fish more productive water.
What about falling or rising water? Is the water muddy, stained or gin clear? Rocks, trees, or aquatic vegetation; does your favorite lake have any of these types of cover and what seasons do bass relate best to them? The list goes on and on and no matter how good technology may be, the best LiveScope or other fishing technology in the world can’t tell you how to catch fish any of the above scenarios. While many of the older sets of anglers probably know what I am talking about, the younger generation, as well as a few of the older converts, just haven’t run into that problem yet. I’m sure time will tell.
If you want to become a better bass angler, study the shad. What kinds of shad are prevalent on your favorite lake? What time of year do the bass feed on the smaller threadfin or when do they prefer the bigger gizzard shad? If you want to become a better bass angler, study the bream. Where they hang out, their seasonal movements. Are they light colored, or do they have a dark hue to them? Study the crawfish. What do the crawfish look like in different bodies of water and where can they be found? What color are their pinchers? There is only one way to find out this information and the answer isn’t technology.
All the great anglers I have known, fished against or with, have a good idea about what to do, when to do it, and why they do it, while they are on the water. This instinct is developed through a lot of trial and error, as well as years on the water. In some anglers, fishing by instinct is second nature and their consistent results prove this time and time again. In others, it is a continual game of second guessing, as well as a lot of ifs and but’s. As it is true with everything else in life, there are no shortcuts to continued success, not even with the best technology, especially in bass fishing.
Legendary angler Rick Clunn once said, “If you are ever going to get into bass fishing seriously, you’ve got to forget one thing. That is luck, which has very little or anything to do with it. Fishing is an art and a science. It can be learned. The level you achieve in it is up to you.” This still holds true today.
Well, it looks as if we have run out of time and space again for another month. With the upcoming hunting season upon us, be extra careful in the woods and on the water. See you next month!