"Raw Thumb" article, As Prepared by Armstrong Outfitters Professional Guide Service.


Kirk R. Armstrong


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"Common Sense & Observation"

Kirk R. Armstrong

November, 2001

Expensive electronics and expensive bass boats are not necessarily the key to catching fish. Many times I have been pre-fishing for a big tournament or guide trip and watched and older man or teenage boy, in a John-boat just put it on me! His boat probably costs as much as it takes to fill mine with fuel at $1.20 per gallon!

I have learned a lot watching other fishermen and using my "Common Sense" to improve my fishing abilities. Look at your areas and see what is there that would be indicators to your fishing success. A Blue Heron on a point is a great indicator of bait fish in the area. Did you turn over a rock at the boat ramp to see what color the craw fish are and key on that ? I have seen guys win major tournaments by doing just that! Diving birds, oil slicks on the water, smell, temperature, sun, clouds...the denominators are endless. Throw in a good set of electronics and look out, you got Ôem surrounded, no chance for escape!

One recent trip this summer yielded a limit of catfish up to 10 pounds and several Large Mouths, up to 7 pounds. All on the same bait! When we were launching I noticed the multitude of Grasshoppers in the area. I turned on my graph and noticed the distinctive arches of bass schooled up in about 8-12 feet of water. There was blow up after blow up on the surface and then I noticed just small swirls as well. Closer observation showed me that the bass and catfish were eating the grasshoppers that landed in the water as cars, people and boat trailers spooked them into the water. This in association to the fact that they were drawn in by the lights at the ramp and the warm concrete and pavement made for a "Common Sense" situation!

Rather than chase down a bunch of grasshoppers and probably break my neck, I quickly tied on two Rebel Grasshopper crank baits. We proceeded to have an awesome day and my customer was thrilled. Later I did borrow my daughters bug net and used an old plastic Coke bottle to put them in. She and I caught some bigger grasshoppers and fished them on the bottom and caught some huge flat heads, blues and channel cats!

Many times I have been pre-fishing and run through my gauntlet of lures, tricks, techniques only to wind up finding the fish want the simplest, most common, dumbest lure and techniques there is. One year I got so enthralled with the new lures and techniques on the market I got away from my old stand byes! I went back to them and my catch rate tripled and my partner and I won a lot of money that year. How many times have you been fishing a tournament or talked to someone at the end of the day to find they had much better success than you did? When you ask the fatal question, "What did you catch them on?" The answer leaves you feeling foolish cause you knew that was a technique that would have worked had you "thought" about it and used some "Common Sense."

Electronics can be a lot of help to an angler as well as a lot of frustration. My first question is, "Did you read the manual that came with the unit?" No? Then go back and do that now! Stick with the factory recommendations that are the standard for the unit and donŐt mess with anything until you are comfortable with those settings. Then you can change your gray line, adjust your back light, re-set your bottom setting and change your sensitivity to find those baitfish. If you do not have an understanding of the basics then advancing to the more difficult steps will be impossible. Be sure you can tell what the contour of the bottom is showing you. Learn to zoom in and out on something so you can see if that small piece of structure is holding a fish or two. Is the bottom hard or soft? All of these come with experience and time but a little "Common Sense" will take you a long way!

In closing I want to leave you with some thoughts about "Observation." Catch rates can be improved and even bigger fish can be caught when you listen to what the bass are telling you! No, I havenŐt lost my mind and canŐt really talk to the fish, but listen and "observe." The indicators that are there when you catch a bass, or any kind of fish for that matter. Did they come up and CRUSH the top water or just suck it off the surface? Was the bait by cover, over grass, was it cloudy, early or late? Did you slow roll the spinner bait over the grass or burn it and stop it? Was the fish lip hooked or did she engulf the bait? All of these are indicators as to what the fish can be telling you. If you use your "Common Sense and Observe" these signs and adjust your fisning technique to these things you will catch bigger and better fish!

All you have to do is use your "Common Sense & Observe" you surroundings.

Until next time, be safe, smart, and God Bless, "Raw Thumb"

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