TO MAKE IT EASY, KEEP IT SIMPLE
article by KENNY COVINGTON
Fishing can be a complicated sport. The more information you have, the more information you get, the more information you retain, the more complicated things can get. It can get overwhelming, especially to young and new anglers. Information, while at times can be useful, often has a negative effect on the angler.
In this month’s BayouLife “Fishing with Kenny,” I want to discuss some things that might help the young and/or beginning angler become a better more consistent angler. The information available on fishing, the various techniques, the “how to fishing videos” and all things in between, is mind blowing. What took me years to learn or discover on my own is now readily available at the push of a computer button. On one hand it speeds up the learning process but is this a good thing?
With high school and college angling become more and more popular and the overall number of people who have taken up the sport in the past few years, the number of anglers you see on the water each weekend is staggering. Often times when I go practice for a tournament in the middle of the week, at one time I had the lake almost to myself, now I am greeted by a parking lot full of cars and trucks. The fishermen are many and the fish are not just more pressured, but they are getting educated as well.
Now that I have come full circle, what is my point? Well, over the years I have kept records of the tournaments I fish and how I did in them. I note things such as weather, water level, and various other things I believe to be important. I ALWAYS list the fish I weighed in and how they were caught! These records go back almost 35 years and are more and more valuable to me as the years pass by. By keeping these notes, I can refer back to them as reminders on the particulars of a lake or what caused me to make the decisions I made during the day. Maybe when I zigged, I should have zagged. This is valuable information you can’t get from a computer.
At the end of a tournament day, if someone asks me, “How did you do?” all I have to do is look at the rods and techniques I used over the last four hours of the day. If I noticed that I used more than two or three different rods, I know I didn’t figure anything out and I probably didn’t do very well. The easier you can make things on the water, the more successful you will be. I have said many times in my articles and in conversations with other anglers, “there are no magic lures and there are no secret spots.”
Throughout the rest of this article, I will make a few suggestions I believe can help you become a better angler. In each instance I am trying to help you as an angler by giving you a “been there, done that” perspective. Once you understand what you are trying to accomplish in the sport, no matter if you are a weekend angler or someone trying to compete in tournaments, things will become easier for you.
Develop your own style. When I was a kid, it seemed like all of the adults that I followed in the sport or idolized did their own thing. My father was a great worm fisherman as well as a grub and jig man. Rick Clunn was a crankbait guru with a unique way of finding fish quickly. Larry Nixon was all about soft plastics. Jimmy Houston was all about a spinnerbait. Me, well I simply learned a lot from all of my heroes and developed my own way of doing things.
I can fish deep and have been successful doing so, however, I prefer to fish shallow water and spend about 90% of my time doing just that. I have lures that I have confidence in and I know what it will take to be successful on most bodies of water that I fish. Best of all, I am still learning and shaping my fishing style.
Learn from your mistakes. When I say “mistakes” I am not being critical. As long as you are on the water, that is nothing but positive re-enforcement. But what you want to do is learn from the things you did that didn’t give you the results that you anticipated. Did you break a fish off? Or maybe lost several fish due to bad hook ups? What about losing a big fish because you didn’t have a net? All these things and more will happen to you if you spend enough time on the water.
Did you have fresh line on your reels or maybe you tied a bad knot? Did you inspect your hooks on your topwater lure? If they were bad, did you replace them or use a file to sharpen the ones that were on there. These little things that many anglers overlook is what separates average anglers from good anglers and good anglers from great ones. To get better as an angler you have to learn from these mistakes so that you don’t make them twice.
Be careful with “Dock Talk.” Tackle stores are there to sell fishing tackle. Fishermen are known to hide secrets. The combination of both is called “dock talk.” Learn who you can trust to give you good information but be careful about getting specific information. General information is usually best because it gives you something to go on. Instead of asking “where did you catch your fish?” maybe ask “what depth did you find to be the most productive?” Instead of asking about a specific color of crankbait just ask if it was a shallow running or a deep one. Ask general questions and you will get more useful information.
Learn the difference between stubborn and stupid. I lost an Angler of the Year title once because I refused to throw a shaky head when fishing the last tournament of the circuit on Caney Lake. All I needed was to catch a small limit of fish and the title was mine. Nope, not me. I was going to make them bite the way I wanted to catch them and I was going to win my way. I was wrong! The stubborn side of me didn’t want to throw a shaky head on spinning tackle, the stupid side of me was I didn’t do it. Both stupid and stubborn will come back to bite you, trust me.
Control the variables you can control, prepare for the ones you can’t. Retie your lures often. Change your line after a hard day on the water. Replace hooks. Take more water than you think you will need. Prepare for your trolling motor to break by having the needed tools to fix it handy. Have extra clothes in your boat in case you fall in the water, especially in the winter time. If it is possible keep your rain gear in your boat. I can go on and on but I think you get the general idea. Control what you can, prepare for the rest.
Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space again this month. I hope we were able to share some thoughts and ideas that will help you be more successful on your future trips to your favorite body of water. With summer being in full swing please be mindful of all the pleasure boaters and jet skiers. Be safe, take care and most of all, catch one for me!