Adapt for More Fishing Success

February 3, 2015 by  

By Bob Jensen


There are times in fishing, as in life, that if we want to be successful, we need to change our plans:  We need to adapt. We may have a plan for a day on the water of chasing bass, but conditions aren’t suited for our plans.  If we want to catch something, we need to do something different.  Here’s what I mean.

It was several years ago.  We were after catfish on the Red River in Manitoba.  This area provides world-class action for channel catfish.  They’re big and they’re abundant on the Red.

We were using frogs for bait and rigging them on slip-sinker rigs.  The catfish action wasn’t as fast as we had expected.  Every now and then a walleye would eat our frog, and these were nice-sized walleyes.  After a while, a light clicked on in one of our heads.  The light told us that we were catching more walleyes than catfish and that maybe we should switch gears and go after walleyes.  I liked this idea for two reasons.

september 2015 fishing 058

This smallmouth came from shallow water. We didn’t think the bass would be shallow on this day, but when we couldn’t find them deep, we went shallow and found success.

Number One, I always like to go after the fish that seem to be biting better.

Number Two, I don’t like to use frogs for bait.  I like frogs.  They seem to be kind of friendly little creatures and I prefer to see them happily hopping around instead of dangling on a hook.

We had some crankbaits in the boat, and we had some rods that would work for trolling.  We put them to use.  In the next few hours, I had the best trophy walleye action that I’ve ever experienced, anywhere.  We never went longer than five minutes without having a fish on.  We caught three walleyes that were under twenty two inches, one that was thirty three inches, with most of them being in the twenty seven to thirty inch range.  It was fantastic, and we wouldn’t have experienced this memorable action if we hadn’t altered our plans.

I’ve had the same thing happen on a number of other days on the water.  It always starts with things not working out the way we planned and someone says “You know, maybe we should try something different”.  Sometimes the “something different” doesn’t work out, but it works out enough that it’s usually a good idea to try “something different” when things aren’t going as planned.

A couple of years ago in early June I was in the boat with Mike Frisch chasing bass.  We knew that the bass should be shallow.  We were working a shallow bay on one of our favorite bass lakes.  We were using weightless Impulse Jerk Minnows rigged weedless.  We were casting the baits toward shore.  I was fishing behind Mike which isn’t a great idea in the first place.  Trying to catch a fish from water that Mike has already fished is like trying to collect dust from behind a vacuum cleaner: You just don’t get much.  Action was ok, but not great.  Mike was catching a few, I wasn’t.  For some reason that I don’t know, I started casting away from the shore toward the middle of the bay.  The water was only a bit deeper out there, but that’s where the bass were.  I only needed to catch a couple before we were both throwing to the middle of the bay, and business picked up substantially.

I have lots of other stories about adapting, changing plans, that resulted in much better fishing.  I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again many, many times:  If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else, in fishing and in life.  If you do it in regard to fishing, you’ll catch more fish more often.

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