The Minnow Bucket

Getting to Know a Lake

BW fishing some lilly pads on a nice summer dayIt just seems to make sense that as you get to know a lake better, the more successful you will become as an angler on that lake. What if that’s not true? It doesn’t seem to hold true for me all the time. Sadly, it reminds me of a lake where my tournament results got worse over the years and it’s still something that I think about from time to time.

Fishing on a new lake is always very exciting for me, but after fishing it many times the excitement wears off. It makes me think of the old cliché “Familiarity breeds contempt”. That cliché refers to personal relationships between people but somehow it seems to be true for lakes as well. I never came to hate a lake, but lakes I once found exciting lost some of their luster as I got to know them better. This is almost as sad of a predicament for lakes as it is for people! Fishing is supposed to be fun and people are supposed to be friends. So how do we keep our relationships with our lakes successful and exciting?

The solution to this problem is one that I never really solved over my years of tournament fishing but I am willing to keep trying to figure it out. Success will provide excitement after the newness of the lake wears off. I’m thinking particularly about a large southern lake that I fished several hi-profile tournaments on.

I think what is unique about fishing a new lake is that I arrive at the lake with confidence in my own fishing abilities but I must yet establish confidence in my ability to catch fish on the new lake. To establish that confidence, I just go fishing and figure out what works, building confidence in the lake as I fish it.

So, all goes well for me on the section of the lake that I fish in my first tournament and I just can’t wait to fish that lake and tournament again, but in the next tournament I don't do as well. Now I have lost my confidence in that part of the lake and decide to go looking for new areas to fish in other parts of the lake for the next tournament. Sadly, I’m really starting all over again. Unless I get very lucky in the new area, I have taken a step backwards. Having little success in the new part of the lake, I will now have no confidence in two parts of the lake and I may even mistakenly feel like I know the lake better just because I have explored more of it!

I should have maintained my confidence in what I had learned from the first tournament and continued to build on that instead of trying to start over from the beginning on a new part of the lake. I could have tried new locations and techniques in the same general area that I fished the first time and added to what I already knew, instead of starting over on some new and completely different part of the lake.

Well, that’s my theory and I’m holding to it until I find out that I’m wrong, so tell me what you think.

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