I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the only angler who can have the tendency to lock myself into a fishing box; where I stick to certain techniques dictated by both the season, daily weather conditions, daily water conditions, etc. And those techniques have usually been re-enforced by past success or simply personal preferences that specific techniques. But what makes a successful angler is being able to adapt to the daily conditions and change the status quo; breaking out of the box to some degree to try something different.
This was just re-enforced on an earlier river outing for smallmouth this week. My previous three trips were less than stellar, with one to two little smallmouth caught each trip. And the last 4-5 hour trip with a fishing buddy resulted in the skunk not leaving the kayak for each of us, even though we saw the fish. However the fish were not where they were supposed to be. Needless to say, it was starting to get a little frustrating, as I wasn’t finding the fish were they weren’t supposed to be for the beginning of November. They weren’t in the winter holes, and they weren’t hitting tubes or suspending jerk baits, which was the normal for this time of year.
A fellow smallmouth anlger, Dave Thompson, sent me a Facebook message asking if I had heard of the Ned Rig. He had just had an outing on the Susquehanna River, where a fellow angler had shown him the Ned Rig. That angler pulled out a 19” smallmouth right beside Dave using the rig. I looked up the rig & found that I was using something kind of similar, but not quite the same. The rig is a small 2.75-3” senko on a finesse jighead to allow it to float/tumble along the bottom with a horizontal presentation. I’ve always done a vertical presentation using the same senko, but on a football jighead for a stand up presentation. So I picked up a pack of the necessary jigheads before the short outing yesterday. I rig up one rod with the Ned Rig & on my first pass through an area near a winter area, just not in it, letting the Rig tumble along the bottom, I get a solid thump. Next thing an 18” smallmouth is jumping outing of the water & is shortly in the kayak. Needless to say, the frustration was immediately gone.
But it took getting out of my box to not fish only where the fish should have been and use what I should be using. I put a new variation on a familiar technique, fished a little different type of water and was rewarded with one of my biggest smallmouth of the year. There was a good chance that being stubborn wouldn’t have given me the same success on this outing.
So fellow anglers, don’t be afraid to get out of the box. You don’t need to jump completely out of the box & throw topwaters in the middle of winter, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little sooner and more often in terms of technique and location. You might be pleasantly rewarded.