Be ready to adapt, as change is in the air -- and the water
I look for experiences of the previous weeks fishing to stimulate topics to write about that I hope can be helpful to other anglers. Some weeks, the boat discussions or the experiences make picking a topic obvious. Other weeks, it may be subtle reminders that stimulate an idea or topic. This week, the theme of the week seems to be change. This change has not only occurred with our weather pattern (which effects fishing), but the fast transition we seem to be making toward fall. The days have been obvious in shortening themselves. These shorter daylight hours also have an impact on fishing.
We are coming up on the time of year that the fishing patterns will start to change. We will transition from summer patterns to fall, cool weather patterns. Fish will be in a "here today, gone tomorrow" feeding attitude as they adjust for their forage. Water temperatures have been dropping fast during this last week, and with cooler nights, shortened daylight hours, less powerful sun during daylight hours, this trend should continue. We will start to see a die off of some of the heavy weed growth we experienced this year over the next week or so (I am glad I don't have a shoreline area to clean up!)
This week has been a reminder that the changes in weather show us fishing is a very weather-dependent sport. Fronts, wind changes or direction, sun or cloud cover make a difference. Adapting to these changes becomes important in the attempt to stay on top of biting fish. This is the time of year we will be faced with more dramatic cold fronts and significant weather changes. These are the days when what you did yesterday, won't apply to today.
The other significant change that was obvious this week has been the inconsistency of size of fish, or the number of fish biting from day to day in areas that have been consistently holding fish. This is a reminder to me that we can control effort, but we are not always in control of outcome. You can have a couple of boats working the same area, everyone is doing the same thing, and one boat might catch a few more quality fish. One angler in the boat may catch all the quality fish, yet everyone is doing the same thing. Sometimes I think luck is as important as skill when it comes to getting the right bite.
As a guide, some days it comes easy and a few days, it is a scramble to produce. Some customers get that it is about the "fishing experience" and learn what they can from their experience. I believe the more experienced and wise angler that "gets it" realizes that success is relative to the conditions faced. Making changes in presentations, locations, adapting to change of conditions, and trying things if what you are doing isn't working, can make a difference in your 'fishing" or "catching" experience. The only way to improve as an angler and get accustomed to adjusting to changing conditions, is to get out and practice. Make time to get on the water as we get to this busy fall season. Keep a few to eat, and put a few back for the future. Be selective in your harvest. Enjoy the time you get on the water.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)