Going the Extra Mile
How many times have you gone to a spot where you’ve previously caught fish and find that the fish are gone? Let’s face it, when fish are in specific areas they’re there for a reason. It could be the weather brought them there, it could be the bait brought them there or it could be something else that made those fish move into the area. Whatever the reason is, the fish are there because it’s a comfort zone for them. So when the fish are gone, what do you do? You can panic and leave the area completely, or you can go the extra mile and try to figure out where those fish might have gone.
A number of years ago we were fishing in Northwestern Ontario with tournament anglers and guides Dave Bennett and Jeff Gustafson. We were ice fishing for crappies on a small lake north of Kenora and these guys said the lake had some pretty good slabs. We went out to a mid-section area of the lake where they had previously caught them and we caught about ten crappies that were only six or seven inches long.
After a few hours of catching these small crappies, we started moving around and I ended up about 400 yards further out, over deeper water. I punched some holes, lowered my transducer down and thought something was wrong with my unit—the whole middle band of water was completely solid. I tried adjusting it but nothing changed so I figured I’d drop a bait down just to see. Well, my small jig didn’t even get 20 feet down when it stopped. I lifted up, felt some weight and reeled in a slab crappie. Dave, Jeff and the rest of the crew joined me out there and we caught literally dozens of big crappie as fast as we could drop our baits down. In that case, we knew the fish were around, and by moving out into deeper water a rather slow day turned into a very exciting one.
Another time I was fishing at the Canadian Open Bass Tournament on Lake Simcoe. I’d found some fish up on the sand, on isolated weed patches in about eight to ten feet of water, so on day three of the tournament, I decided to fish this area. I caught a couple of fish, but nothing big so I decided to move further down and found a little dark spot on the sand. I cast to it and ended up catching a four-pounder in this area I’d never fished before, about 250 yards away from where I’d normally caught them. So I put the electric motor on high and started going further out. About 500 yards from where I had caught fish over the years I found three more dark patches. I ended up catching a couple of more fours and one over six pounds on those spots, and we ended up weighing in a good limit of bass. Once again, it was going that extra mile that saved the day.
Most recently, we were fishing the FLW Canada Cup out of Trenton, Ontario, on the Bay of Quinte (see lead photo). In pre-fish Darren and I had found some largemouth in isolated weed clumps that had a bit of mat on top of them and decided to come back on day two or day three to catch those fish. On day two we went there but the weed mats were gone. The wind had blown them away. So I started frantically looking around the area and found a weedbed I hadn’t seen in pre-fish. Within an hour we flipped 15 fish out of there, including the biggest fish of the day. We went back the next day and caught another dozen or so fish and ended up in fourth place with 49.65 pounds over the three days.
The moral of this column is that you really never know. Yes, it’s fun to go out there and figure things out before a tournament, or before filming a show, or before a day of fun fishing, but things can change and those fish can move. What I’m driving at is that if the fish have moved they’ve got to be somewhere in the vicinity, and with a little work, sometimes you can put that piece of the puzzle together and catch them.