GAME ON!
Okay pookey, do the honors!

Should I stay or should I go?

I really respect the knowledge, experience and insight of tourney bass anglers. There is an incredible amount of competition twelve months of the year that drives innovation in tackle development and fishing tactics. Many of the saltwater lures and techniques that we use for striped bass, redfish, snook and sea trout have their origins in freshwater bassin'. There is also an amazing array of media coverage of the tournaments, personalities, tackle and skills. I've been listening to various podcasts this spring while waiting for the snow to melt, working on the boats, cutting the grass. My friends and clients who would never stoop to tie on a gummy minnow would be dismayed, but I subscribe to podcasts of Bass Champ Journal and Bass Edge.

Bass guys are always talking about trying to pattern the fish - where are the fish and what are they doing now - based on season, water temp, forage availability, weather, fishing pressure, water clarity, reproductive cycle, currents and more. We do the same thing when we fish for striped bass but we just don't have a hundred anglers on the same watershed being interviewed by every imaginable media type after each day on the water. Repeat this event in multiple states (really around the world) and then do it again next weekend and every weekend throughout the year and you really start to collect some information. Maybe the most amazing thing about this whole phenomenon is that guys in the same tournament (same watershed, environmental conditions, seasonal influences) can be successful with wildly different techniques and tackle all on the same day.

There are times when I've been cleaning the shed, listening to an interview with some recent winner when I've said out loud, "YES." The striped bass and the largemouth bass aren't even in the same family, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the guys you see on Saturday morning TV. As anglers we try to figure out a pattern or patterns while we're on the water but we also try to predict a pattern while we hitch up the boat, make sandwiches, check the weather, rig rods, select a launch ramp, review charts, tie up something special. One of the things that a client is paying for is the guide's experience on the water yesterday and the day before and at this time last year and the year before. Some nights I set my alarm and fall asleep reviewing my plan for where we'll fish at what time and what we'll use and what we'll try. Other times I've got all sorts of alternatives and possibilities and I don't know which way I'm going to head as I pull away from the launch ramp.

The easiest decision is to go where the fish were yesterday (well, more specifically, where you caught fish yesterday) or not go where the fish weren't yesterday ( or where you didn't catch them yesterday). That is certainly better than someone relying on memories of where they caught fish two years ago (in a different month,  during different weather) but it isn't always the best decision. Most of us will start with the belief that past performance will predict future earning despite the disclaimer that we hear from our broker. More often than not, that's a good decision. But on the days of "not" how long do you stay with your faith in a pattern and how quickly do you discover a new pattern? What will be rewarded, persistence or innovation? What is needed, a subtle shift or fresh approach? Should I stay or should I go?

I can't recall if I was cleaning up the lawn scars from the plow or packing away our ski gear and I can't recall if it was Kevin VanDam, Alton Jones or Gary Klein but I do remember hearing some pro say "you can't fish yesterday's bite". The phrase has stuck with me since then and I think about it almost every day now that the fish are in. These are guys who spend significant time, energy and money to develop a plan for the next tournament stop but they get paid to catch fish today. I share that economic reality and my clients don't want to hear about the epic day we had in this spot when they weren't in the boat so I go to bed thinking should I stay or should I go? When I pull out of Morse Cove in six hours which direction should I head and when the plan doesn't go as planned do I need to change flies or change my mind set?

Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Fritz Folts

Peter,

This is exciting to read. As a Charter Captain, and a damn good one, you are looking for the the true cause and effect relationships driving the behavior of the striped bass population in order to give you and your clients the best chance of catching fish that day! It may be windy, sunny, cloudy, high tide, low tide, slack tide, cold, hot, night, day, favorable current, no current, time of day, positive momentum - i.e. good fishing leading up to this day, negative momentum i.e. not so good fishing in the prior days, etc. You need to put your knowledge of the species and the eco-system to use in order to succeed. Then you need to adapt again in order to guide for someone looking for top water action, or as many fish as possible, or perhaps only hunting for large fish, a fly fishermen, a spin caster aka a "Hardware Chucker," as you refer to your good friend Rich! All in all, a lot of moving parts. But to me, this is what makes pursuit of the striped bass so incredibly interesting and challenging.

At Windward we like the saying, attributed to Mark Twain that "...the past doesn't repeat itself, but it does tend to rhyme." I think that this applies to both fishing and investing.

Thanks for keeping the updates coming, I know it isn't easy to take the time at this time of year when you are so busy.

Best

Fritz

Capt. Peter Fallon

Fritz,

Thanks for another fabulous weekend and your very kind words. I can't express how much I enjoy guiding with you in the bow, seeking direction for casts, asking thought provoking questions and demanding exceptional performance from yourself. It really is the way it is supposed to be.

I trust that young Alex enjoyed his first true morning of summer vacation and slept until 10:45 yesterday. Thinking about our conversations regarding fishing with kids I realized that I didn’t clearly explain one of the most important reasons to occasionally drag them out of bed in the middle of the night. Kids like to catch fish. They like to fish when they are catching fish. Yes, early morning is a special time with the mysteries of the coming day beginning to unfold and the sweet light staring to flood across the horizon but we set the alarm for 3 AM because we want to catch fish. If we feel fairly confidant that an early morning is going to be productive we should get young Alex out on the water for just a couple of hours when he won’t be able to put down his rod because the bass just keep attacking his popper. The challenge comes in limiting the length of the outing. It’s hard to call it a day at 7:30 AM, but if he’s been in the boat for three hours it’s time for breakfast at Percy’s.

I loved your idea of planning a fishing marathon, an endurance outing. Brings back great memories of trips with Rich, John Asseng and other friends...Boston Harbor from 3 PM until 3 PM watching the city shift from work to play to sleep to waking...Florida Everglades from dark to dark exploring some of the more remote and wild places in the country...crazy adventures in the Bahamas wading home in the dark wondering about the sharks prowling the flats.

I’d also be interested in taking a trip to explore some places that neither of us has fished. There are acres and acres of flats all along the Maine Coast that scream “spook” and “fly rod”. I love knowing places like the Kennebec in great detail and being in touch with the habits of the fish on each tidal cycle and learning something new about these spots on each outing. I also love expanding my range. I’m spoiled to have so many launch ramps so close by. Driving five minutes is so easy but there are times when a longer jaunt would be worth the extra time.

I fished out of the my new boat yesterday morning for the very first time. Stunning day, crisp, bright, ultra clear, vibrant, not so fishy. Driving up to Morse Cove I was debating my plan – explore some areas that we didn’t fish over the weekend or go directly to the spots where we were catching fish. I decided on the latter. Exploring made more sense from a guiding perspective, but I thought it would be fun to just go fishing (well, really I mean to just go catching). On my first cast I landed a nice chubby 26 inch striper. Now that’s the right way to christen a boat.

Thanks for your prodding regarding the blog posts. Just what I needed. I took a couple of photos out on the water yesterday with my phone and promptly emailed them out to a couple of clients who’ve booked trips for later this month. I’m lashed to my desk chair today and joining Facebook and Twitter is on my to do list.

Clip that fly off of your fly line and tie on a small piece of yarn. Commit to spending fifteen minutes practicing your casts before the next trip in the boat. You don’t need a large space or a casting pool. Just find a grassy spot with no trees and make some 40-foot casts. Have I mentioned that you can fish top water with a fly rod?

Looking forward to our next outing,

Peter
Capt. Peter Fallon
www.MaineStripers.com

The comments to this entry are closed.