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Two indispensable tools for catching fish

By Don Allphin - | Jul 1, 2014

At least once a week, a reader will either send me an email or see me around town and ask the same question: “Why can’t I catch as many fish as you? I read your column, follow your instructions and spend time on the water but rarely, if ever, catch fish. What am I doing wrong?”

I generally tell them they need to keep on trying, encourage them not to get down on themselves and assure them that things are bound to go their way eventually.

I now wonder if I have been giving out the proper advice.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, I had the opportunity to fish with some good friends who brought along their own boat so the five of us could enjoy each other’s company without being crowded into one watercraft. The results were nothing like I expected which spawned the subject for this column and perhaps several more to come.

My friends chose to spend a few of days on Flaming Gorge. They arrived late Sunday, and I joined them around noon on Wednesday. The plan was to spend Wednesday afternoon chasing rainbow trout and smallmouth bass, and then on Thursday morning we were to target some lake trout. I took two of the party in my boat while the other two followed in a very nice Lund fishing boat equipped with downriggers and a “kicker” rear trolling motor.

I chose an area that usually holds smallmouth bass with the occasional rainbow trout. Realizing that the other boat wasn’t equipped with an electric trolling motor on the bow, we began to fish in an area directly in line with a gentle breeze, and I assumed that even without the trolling motor the other boat would drift along with us.

However, I quickly realized that my approach to fishing is to be very observant, aware of weather, bird activity and water conditions; I find myself glued to the screen of my fish finder looking for fish to catch. The other boat didn’t have a working fish finder either so while I was telling both anglers on my boat exactly when and where to drop down their lures to catch fish, which they did to perfection, the anglers in the other boat were forced to cast blindly in the general area that held fish but didn’t get a single bite.

As the afternoon progressed, those on my boat caught quality fish, while the anglers in the other boat blanked. Since I knew the people in the other boat were fine anglers it got me thinking about why they struggled while we had a great afternoon.

Then it hit me. It is not enough to just tell people what baits or lure to use, or even the areas in which to fish. If you want to catch fish like me, you must be able to mimic or mirror my presentations, drift speed, the depth and other factors. Too many times anglers try to “drift fish” without being able to maneuver the bow of the boat in and out of bays and coves, slow down or speed up depending on conditions. Then, if you don’t have a working fish finder, you must still fish blind, not really knowing what is under your boat.

It was very difficult to guide my friends in the other boat to fish when really all I could do was get them in the general vicinity. In the real world of fishing, sometimes exactness gets the fish while being “close” to the correct spot nets you nothing.

If you are serious about catching quality fish with methods other than anchoring or trolling, you must invest in a good fish finder and an electric trolling motor hooked onto the bow of your boat. A good fish finder and a trolling motor can be purchased for under $1,000 dollars and should be considered two indispensable tools in your fishing arsenal.


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