Cast, Re­trieve & Be­lieve!

SA Bass - - Health - >> Evert Laub­scher*

There are many dif­fer­ent as­pects that can be de­ter­min­ing fac­tors in your suc­cess with rod and reel in hand. This is es­pe­cially true when it comes to catch­ing fish on ar­ti­fi­cial lures. The as­pects that are nor­mally looked at, and that get writ­ten about in depth are the ex­ter­nal fac­tors.

When we look at ex­ter­nal fac­tors there are many things that can play a role in suc­cess:

Weather: Wind, wa­ter tem­per­a­ture and baro­met­ric pres­sure. Struc­ture: Drop offs, points, old roads, etc. Cover: Tim­ber, lily pads, boul­ders, etc. Tar­get species: Fish be­hav­ior, feed­ing pat­terns and prey. Sea­son: Pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. Time of day: Early morn­ing, mid­day and late af­ter­noon.

How­ever, in this ar­ti­cle I will be dis­cussing some of the fac­tors that are more con­trol­lable to the an­gler. I have di­vided these fac­tors into phys­i­cal at­tributes, men­tal at­tributes, and skill re­lated com­po­nents of fish­ing.

PHYS­I­CAL AT­TRIBUTES

The phys­i­cal at­tributes that can play a role in the suc­cess of an art-lure an­gler:

Core strength/sta­bil­ity

Most an­glers will agree that the lower back takes a lot of strain dur­ing a day on the wa­ter, es­pe­cially if you are op­er­at­ing a foot con­trol trolling mo­tor. Peo­ple are not de­signed to keep a spe­cific po­si­tion for a pro­longed pe­riod of time, but this is ex­actly what hap­pens when you are fo­cused on the job at hand, which is to get fish in the live-well. A painful lower back can be very de­bil­i­tat­ing and can limit your range of mo­tion and af­fect your pow­ers of con­cen­tra­tion on the wa­ter. There­fore make sure you look af­ter your lower back by do­ing “core” mus­cle ex­er­cises, and fo­cus­ing on a cor­rect body pos­ture. The pri­mary mus­cle that needs to be ac­ti­vated to sup­port the lower back is the trans­verse ab­dom­i­nal mus­cle. This mus­cle func­tions like a nat­u­ral back brace when ac­ti­vated, and is es­sen­tial to lower back health. The trans­verse ab­dom­i­nal helps to com­press the ribs and vis­cera, pro­vid­ing thoracic and pelvic sta­bil­ity.

Lo­cal mus­cle en­durance

Lure fish­ing re­quires the rep­e­ti­tion of the ac­tion of cast­ing and re­triev­ing. This ac­tion is even more stren­u­ous when pop­ping with big­ger lures in the ocean. There­fore the mus­cles in­volved in this spe­cific ac­tion can get tired dur­ing a ses­sion, which can re­sult in a de­crease in the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the move­ment. I have ex­pe­ri­enced this first hand on many oc­ca­sions, es­pe­cially when fish­ing on

con­sec­u­tive days. The mus­cles pri­mar­ily in­volved in cast­ing and re­triev­ing will be the wrist flex­ors and ex­ten­sors, the bi­ceps brachii (an­te­rior up­per arm), tri­ceps brachii (pos­te­rior up­per arm), and del­toid (shoul­der) mus­cle groups. These mus­cles can be specif­i­cally con­di­tioned to im­prove their en­durance by do­ing re­sis­tance train­ing. Sets of twenty rep­e­ti­tions, with a short rest pe­ri­ods (30 sec­onds) in be­tween is ideal.

Ob­ser­va­tion

Sight plays a mas­sive role in the suc­cess of a lure an­gler. Cer­tain species, like carp for ex­am­ple, can only be ef­fec­tively tar­geted on sight. Be­ing able to see signs of fish ac­tiv­ity (bub­bles, a swirl on the sur­face) is also very im­por­tant, es­pe­cially when the wa­ter is not clear enough to see the fish it­self. It is also very im­por­tant to stay at­tuned to the sounds you hear while fish­ing. A lot of the time you can hear fish ac­tiv­ity be­fore ac­tu­ally see­ing the fish. Carp can of­ten be heard suck­ing up in­sects or other or­gan­isms from the sur­face, and move­ment of reeds can in­di­cate cat­fish hunt­ing small fish hid­ing in amongst the reeds. Most of the time in na­ture it is eas­ier to see or hear the prey first, be­fore you see the preda­tor. There­fore be on the look­out for signs of bait­fish or other liv­ing or­gan­isms that might be re­garded as prey for your tar­get species. Sight fish­ing is def­i­nitely one of the most ex­cit­ing ways of catch­ing fish on lure, so look af­ter your eyes by in­vest­ing in a good pair of po­lar­ized sunglasses.

Hy­dra­tion

Be­ing out in the wind and weather can have a ma­jor im­pact on the an­gler, and prob­a­bly the big­gest con­cern for South African an­glers is stay­ing hy­drated in our hot cli­mate. I be­lieve most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced some form of de­hy­dra­tion af­ter a long days fish­ing. De­hy­dra­tion is not just a se­ri­ous health con­cern, but it can also neg­a­tively af­fect your abil­ity to con­cen­trate. We tend to get so oc­cu­pied with pur­su­ing the fish that we don’t hy­drate ad­e­quately. It is there­fore im­por­tant to have a hy­dra­tion strat­egy for the day. This can start by con­sum­ing 500ml of wa­ter be­fore you start fish­ing. The gen­eral guide­line would then be to con­sume 500ml to one liter every hour spent on the wa­ter in hot con­di­tions. It is also good to have a hy­dra­tion drink on the boat that con­tains some form elec­trolytes (e.g.: En­er­gade or Game).

MEN­TAL AT­TRIBUTES

Apart from phys­i­cal at­tributes, an­glers also need to pay at­ten­tion to their men­tal at­tributes that in­clude at­ti­tude, con­fi­dence, per­se­ver­ance and in­tu­ition.

At­ti­tude

En­joy what you are do­ing! Like with most things in life, you need the right at­ti­tude to be suc­cess­ful on the wa­ter. A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude might not land you fish, but it will def­i­nitely help you to en­joy your­self more of­ten than not.

Con­fi­dence

There is no bet­ter lure than a lure that you have

con­fi­dence in. When you are con­fi­dent that you are fish­ing in the right spot, and you are con­fi­dent you are pre­sent­ing your lure as best pos­si­ble, then you will with­out a doubt have more pa­tience and be more fo­cused not to miss a take. Con­fi­dence can only be achieved by spend­ing time on the wa­ter and test­ing dif­fer­ent lures and pre­sen­ta­tions in dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, and then be­ing suc­cess­ful. You can get the best in­for­ma­tion from a re­li­able source when pre­par­ing to fish a spe­cific venue, but you need to get it right your­self be­fore you will have con­fi­dence in the sug­gested tech­nique, lure or spot. We al­ways tend to re­vert back to the things that helped us land fish in the past. I do be­lieve that the wrong lure fished with con­fi­dence, will out fish the right lure if fished with a lack of con­fi­dence. Cast, re­trieve, and be­lieve!

Per­se­ver­ance

As I pre­vi­ously men­tioned, the amount of pa­tience you have is di­rectly linked to the amount of con­fi­dence you have in your meth­ods. Never give up. We have all heard the sto­ries of the tro­phy fish that was landed on the last cast of the day. As long as you have a lure in the wa­ter there is a chance of catch­ing a fish. By stick­ing to the task at hand and hav­ing your lure in the wa­ter more than your fel­low an­glers, you will have the odds in your favour. I have ex­pe­ri­enced this on many oc­ca­sions, where the fish­ing has been tough and you sit down to have a break and your boat part­ner lands the big­gest fish of the day.

In­tu­ition

The sixth sense so to speak. I be­lieve that this is a skill that can be de­vel­oped by spend­ing more time on the wa­ter. It is ba­si­cally us­ing all your senses and ob­ser­va­tion skills to make a sub con­scious de­ci­sion that can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween suc­cess and fail­ure. For ex­am­ple ty­ing on a lure that you haven’t fished for many years, or de­cid­ing to stop at a spot at the last minute and de­vi­at­ing from your ini­tial plan, just be­cause you had a good feel­ing about it.

SKILL RE­LATED COM­PO­NENTS that can help im­prove suc­cess on the wa­ter are re­ac­tion time, cast­ing ac­cu­racy, lure pre­sen­ta­tion and boat po­si­tion­ing.

Re­ac­tion time

Very of­ten a take on ar­ti­fi­cial lure can be very sub­tle, there­fore your abil­ity to re­act fast to the bite can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween go­ing tight or end­ing up with the thought of what could have been.

Cast­ing ac­cu­racy

This is def­i­nitely a skill that can be prac­ticed and im­proved. By im­prov­ing your cast­ing ac­cu­racy, and land­ing your lure on the tar­get, you can dras­ti­cally im­prove your chances of get­ting the fish to take the lure. Of­ten ref­er­ence is made to the sweet spot, which is the spe­cific spot on a spe­cific cover or struc­ture that will trig­ger a bite more eas­ily. A lot of the time you only get one chance to get the lure in the right spot, so cast­ing ac­cu­rately un­der pres­sure is also vi­tal. Prac­tice cast­ing in an open field by ty­ing on a weight or lure that can­not snag eas­ily and aim­ing at spe­cific tar­gets. You can im­prove your dis­tance and ac­cu­racy in this way.

Lure pre­sen­ta­tion

The same lure can be pre­sented in many dif­fer­ent ways. The re­trieve speed as well as the rod move­ment, and ac­tion can greatly in­flu­ence the pre­sen­ta­tion of a lure. This is also true for the type of line and the line di­am­e­ter that you are us­ing. It is there­fore im­por­tant to ex­per­i­ment with the pre­sen­ta­tion tech­nique to find out which is most ef­fec­tive on the day. You can prac­tice your lure pre­sen­ta­tion by cast­ing and re­triev­ing in a swim­ming pool. The clear wa­ter will al­low you to see the ac­tion of the lure un­der wa­ter, which will help you fish it more ef­fec­tively.

Boat po­si­tion­ing / ma­noeu­vrings

The po­si­tion of the boat can greatly af­fect lure pre­sen­ta­tion and the time the lure spends in the strike zone. The an­gle and stealth with which you ap­proach the fish, or the spe­cific struc­ture, or cover also plays a mas­sive role in achiev­ing suc­cess. Boat po­si­tion­ing is also a skill that can be im­proved through prac­tice, and can make all the dif­fer­ence on the day.

Next time be­fore you go out fish­ing keep in mind that it is not only ex­ter­nal fac­tors that can in­flu­ence your fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ence but also your own phys­i­cal at­tributes, men­tal at­tributes, and fish­ing skills.

*Evert Laub­scher is a well known name in the angling world and a pro staff an­gler for Salmo Lures.

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The au­thor with his large­mouth bass that was caught on sight

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