The Minnow Bucket

Counting Down

Countng down fishing lures to get a feel for the composition and shape of the lake bottomCounting Down is very popular right now. I and many other people are counting down the days till Christmas. We are counting down other things as well. Some people are counting down the days to the end of the world (What?). How about counting down the seconds until the New Year, that’s a lot of fun. Have you ever thought about counting down your fishing lures?

I’m not talking about counting all my fishing lures to see how many I have or counting all the dollars I’ve spent on fishing lures (I might lose some sleep over that). I’m talking about counting a fishing lure down to the bottom of the lake that I‘m fishing. Maybe that sounds a little bit crazy, but it helps me catch more fish and have more fun. By counting down a fishing lure. I mean counting one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, like that from the time my lure hits the water until it hits the bottom of the lake. Doing that helps me to build an image in my mind of what the shape of the lake bottom would look like if I could see it.

Lures don’t all fall through the water at the same rate, but most seem to fall at about the rate of one foot per second, so if it takes 15 seconds to reach bottom, the bottom will be about 15 feet from the surface. I cast out my jig, worm, or Carolina rig, engaging my reel when the lure hits the surface. I then count while holding my rod in a position where I can set the hook if I need to, watching the spot where the fishing line enters the water. You will see the line slipping into the water as the lure goes to the bottom. When the lure hits the bottom, the line above the surface will go completely slack. That’s when I note that it took 15 seconds for the lure to reach the bottom. I place the next cast a little bit to the left of the first cast and repeat the process. This time it only took 14 seconds to reach bottom. That tells me that the bottom slopes up to the left of me. If I continue to fan out my casts, I can develop an accurate image in my mind of what the shape of the bottom of the lake would look like. I can also enhance that image by paying attention to the texture of the lake bottom as I drag my lure along it.

So, what does it tell you if the last time you casted to a certain spot it took 15 seconds for the lure to hit bottom but this time it only took 14 seconds on the very same spot? That’s right, set the hook! A fish just grabbed your lure before it could reach the bottom, and this time you knew you had a bite without even being able to feel the strike. Now we’re getting to the fun stuff. Remember that I said that I watch where the line enters the water as I’m counting down. That is where the line will jump or twitch when you get a strike. That’s another way to detect a strike that you may not even feel. Now we’re catching fish that we may not have even known were biting our lures before, and we know exactly where the tip of the point is that we are fishing, and exactly where that little rock pile is on the point, and exactly how the fish are relating to that structure. Wow! Counting down has never been so much fun.

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