It’s happened to me many times. You know, the incredible feeling that you’ve just discovered the “secret to the universe,” a fishing breakthrough you’ve been waiting for? It may be some lure, lure color, location or special technique that seems to just be killing the fish the first and maybe even the second time you try it. Kinda makes you feel like you’ve got the game wired, until you usually find out the trend has its limits.
It happened to me when the umbrella rig craze hit several seasons ago. Hearing about the incredible bass catches on it, I got excited about trying it for stripers, too. Several weeks later I was fishing a tournament at San Luis and not doing too well, so I decided to give an umbrella rig a try. I had trolled the rig all of 50 yards when the pole bent over and I thought I might be hung up. Holy mackerel! There was something big pulling, and when the 23-pound striper rolled on top, I realized I might have discovered the “secret” lure for big stripers. I was pumped; I was on to something new!
In the next trip or two, I caught two more big stripers on the rig and I really felt I had found “the fountain of youth,” until my success suddenly stopped. My magic wand wasn’t producing like it had; I was getting mentally dependent on it, but realized that the fish just weren’t feeding on shad schools anymore. It was time to go back to basics, although I had a new weapon in my quiver.
Turned out the season the umbrella rig exploded was marked by a very mild winter. Guys all over the country were cashing in on the new technique because warmer water produced a longer feeding season on schooling shad. A much cooler winter the next season made it clear the phenomenon was, in part, weather-related. The honeymoon was over. A couple of years later we can look back and laugh because the tournaments had banned the umbrella rig, not realizing that just like any other technique/lure it needs to be used properly and fish get used to it. It became just another tool.
My point in this is that I have had times where I pulled out a weird color or lure I would never think of using and it caught fish like crazy. For awhile! It struck me that my first reaction was to suddenly change my normal spectrum of lures. It was a subtle but major change in the way I was fishing. This veering onto another path caused by the sudden, unexpected success tended to influence my selection, and soon I was resisting tying on the very lures I had depended on for years. My confidence had been affected.
I look in my tackle box and can point out the many unused lures I purchased after a supposed “breakthrough.” I probably only use about 30 lures per trip but always bring three big tackle boxes. They represent all the different ”secrets” that have proven effective at some point. And every time I think I’ve found a secret, it always turns out someone else has been using it for years!
Sometimes, for kicks, I still will reach into my box of secret weapons and tie on one of my most awful looking plugs! It hasn’t been in the water for years, but then again, I find that confidence is an imperishable thing. Never give up!
Delta bass and striper bites off the hook, Randy Pringle said. San Francisco stripers working, Jim Smith reported. Eastman and Hensley bass bites solid, Mark Inman reported. New Melones trout bite opens up, John Lietchy said.
Tioga pass (Toulumne Meadows) opened Monday and the road to Courtwright is also open. Kaiser is scheduled for May 22. Great flows in most drainages. Yellow Salley Stoneflies in size #14-#16 hatching on the mid-elevation streams. Water still a little cool up high. Don't overlook fishing Carpenter Ant patterns (#14-#16). Spring trout love Carpenter Ants.