New Year Resolutions by My Bait Shop Pro-Angler John P. Hotlz
Here we are 2019! Christmas has been packed away, toasts have been made to Auld Lang Syne, etc., etc.. If your anything like me New Years was brought in by some yahoo shooting off a big firework, me saying a not so nice New Year’s greeting to him, rolling over and going back to sleep! I know I am a party pooper when it comes to this time a year. This melancholy mood probably has a lot to do with where I live, and the lack of fishing I get to do! The ice is too thin to walk on, yet too thick to get a bait through. This is also a time of year I tend to “go into my head” a lot… As my wife can attest, that is a scary place to dive into. I find myself doing a lot of tackle prep, rigging and re-rigging, and working on the boat. I do all this to be ready first chance I get. While doing the odds and ends I find myself thinking about fishing trips past and anticipation of the next cast.
Yes, even I begin to make resolutions. Ok, I’m too fat, I talk too much, I buy too much tackle (according to the aforementioned wife (what does she know)). Yeah, yeah, yeah… I tend to be cynical about resolutions of this nature, but I do think it is super important as an angler to continue to grow. That is where my resolutions for a new fishing year begin. You have to adjust and adapt because as you learn, fish also learn. Ok, learn might be strong, but let’s maybe call it condition. After a while even I figure out that it is the chocolate cake making me fat (also the BBQ, occasional beer, chips, pasta…) My point is, so to do the fish! Some have willpower to start saying, “Hmmm that looks good, but I don’t want a sore mouth today.” So, how do we make sure we are continuing to grow while we also try to fool the fish. They are actually one in the same. For me, it is a two step approach.
Step one: On the lakes I fish, 98% of the time these fish see a lot of the same baits. Like A LOT! There aren’t a whole lot of fish that haven’t seen the same dozen or so baits. That is why My Bait Shop is so awesome!!! They have the baits that these fish do not see every day! Easy access to baits in your “box stores” is cool, but there is a drawback. Sometime go look down those isles. (It is a good lesson in reading sonar.) Look where people are grouped up. Take a gander in these shoppers’ baskets. I think you will be astonished to see so many of the same style/color baits in everyone’s carts. And of course there is a reason, they catch fish! But they also catch fishermen. So many of these lures get sold, and that creates highly conditioned fish at your locally hammered on lakes. i.e. they don’t bite the lure anymore because they know.
When you look through the selection on My Bait Shop you are going to say, “Huh, haven’t seen that one in a while” or “I have never seen that color before!” Guess what, that is the same reaction the fish will have too. A little fish conversation that goes like, “What we got goin on ova here?” (I don’t know why every fish sounds like Mark Zona, they just do!) When you tie on a lure and fish that pond or reservoir, you will find that a “different bait” will open up a whole new world to you.
The second step of resolve for me is a discipline issue. It is great to be a specialist. It is phenomenal if you always can keep a fastball as it were (more on this in a future article). You have to recognize the importance of versatility! They aren’t going to eat the way YOU want them to every time. Each season I challenge myself to learn a new technique. I will literally go out on a lake with one rod, one style of bait and fish it, fish it, fish it. Last year it was a drop shot. I will burn a bunch of days doing nothing but my desired new technique. Some years I use the opportunity to reintroduce myself to an old friend. Two years ago I made it a re-get-to-know spinner baiting year. I predominantly challenge myself on these techniques when I fish alone. No pressure, no eyes looking on mistakes, no money on the line. That is the best scenario for learning/relearning a fishing technique.
I sure hope this helps you out in the New Year. As for me, I’m gonna be fishing a whole bunch of solo Carolina Rig trips this year! I might also try laying off the cake a little more… that or I might be finding a good hard bank to spawn on from the looks of it. I’m getting too fat to hide lures from my wife, it’s getting serious folks! Anyway, go buy ya a bait and make a memory!
John P. Holtz
My Bait Shop Pro