Fish for schools, not singles.

Thursday, April 26, 2012.   With several work commitments coming up, it doesn’t look like I am going to be able to pull together a fishing report, so I thought I would share a simple idea that significantly increased my bass fishing success on Lake Champlain.

Many bass anglers, when they catch a fish, get so excited that they don’t think of anything except that fish and that fight.  Or they eliminate the possibility of catching more fish from the same spot by drifting over or away from it or by making a big commotion.

Don’t do this.  When you get a bite and set the hook, take a brief moment and take stock of what just happened.  Make a careful and detailed mental note of exactly what you were doing at the time the fish struck. Then line up some triangulation points on shore or, if you are more than a cast length from shore, drop a buoy to mark your boat location.

Next, land the fish as quietly as possible while doing your best to maintain your exact boat position.  This can be especially difficult on Champlain, where it seems the wind is always howling.  When the fish comes up, check how it is hooked.  If it is hooked solidly, and your tackle can handle it, swing the fish into the boat while staying on the trolling motor.

After the fish is unhooked and returned to the water, make every effort to replicate exactly what you were doing at the moment the fish struck, in the exact same location.   Bass on Lake Champlain, both largemouth and smallmouth, seem to have an unusually strong tendency to school.  Sometimes such schools can contain dozens of fish.  Last July, Rob and I caught 27 largemouth from a single area no larger than our boat.  Many bass anglers on Champlain have had similar experiences.

Fish for schools, not singles.   When you set the hook, be happy about your success, but also mindful of what you are doing.  This is the time to really focus and capitalize on an opportunity that may be before you.  If you are careful, this fish may be the first of several bass, perhaps a dozen or more, that you can catch from the same area.

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