Fair play

The Other Guy or Gal 

How does a fishing conversation between guys and gals get started?
The conversation usually starts with I saw, I heard or did you see?

And if you are an angler, it doesn’t take very long before the conversation turns to what depth, what speed and what color or type of bait?
The last question and sometimes the most overlooked question was the size of fish being caught?

Walleye are a great example of fish that conjures up all these questions. The last question needs to be asked if you want to have bragging rights at the end of the day.
Walleye are schooling fish and susceptible to known habits and haunts.
Many people or the vast majority will look for the break line, the hump or the saddle and or maybe a current area to key in on their quarry.

Encouraging conversation with innocent questions or reading between the lines is often the key to locating and catching the larger fish.

I saw, I heard or did you see?

These statements could have come from three different anglers working a similar area. What did they see?
Your goal is to breakdown the general statements of your friends and try to develop a mental picture of exactly what the other person was doing that caught everyone’s attention.
Your part in the conversation will be to encourage your friends continue. This might appear deceptive, but what you really want is a captive audience so you can focus on detail.
You might ask about the weather or time of day.
From this point on, you will try to eliminate assumptions and key in on facts. A harmless question can elicit a key response.
Were your friends fishing the area at the same time of day or were these observations scattered? Were your friends fishing similar techniques?
Try and key in on what the other person was doing different.

what depth, what speed, what color or type of bait?

These are all natural questions. You have to determine if you understand the structure or lack of in this immediate area that made the other person stand out. Was he or she on shore fishing, in a boat, anchored, wind drifting, trolling, running electrics and so on.
Toss out another innocent question. Did your friends notice any bait balls on their sonars or was it windy, rough or lumpy out there today? Keep your audience in the conversation because you recognize how powerful the questions are becoming.

what size of fish were being caught?

This is often the most difficult question to answer. Most of the time, it is the quantity of fish caught and not the quality that starts the conversation. Still, you should not be side tracked if you are after quality fish.

Go back to the area where the hot topic of conversation originated.
Apply key facts you have accumulated and see if the results are similar or better than the information gleaned from your friends.
Move up and down, in and out, throughout the water column and check the fish caught for size and numbers. Be fair to yourself and give the area multiple passes using yesterday’s information and then adding some of your own.

Compare your results with yesterday’s information. The results will tell you if you onto something big or time to move on. Always remember that fish swim. (one of my favourite sayings)

Good anglers amongst their peers have one thing in common. They have the ability to present the bait, set the hook, all before your friends feel the point. No, this is not how you fish but how you ask questions and analyze answers to help you key in on your favourite quarry.

To be fair and trusted, you should never fear relating your experiences in this type of conversation.  This is a two-way, give and take conversation.  If you become known as one who asks but never offers, you will soon be fed a lot of garbage.

A short story

I remember a time when I was in a large tournament and doing very well.  A competing team was fishing near by and were struggling.  They were no threat to me and I overheard their conversation about how lucky I was.  I suggested that they pull up near me which they did and I reeled up.  When they were within tossing distance, I unhooked my set up and tossed it into their boat.  Then I pulled away and told them to enjoy themselves. My tournament partner was aghast and we carried on.

After our day ended, my tournament partner asked me why I did what I did.  I told him that particular team would not affect the tournament outcome for us.  I went on and explained that the team was unsure of the depth we were catching fish at and that anglers fish similar equipment at different speeds.  These variable put a lot of if’s in the catching equation but it gave the other team a sense of confidence.  Finally I said that someday we might need some help and I know which team might just offer up some good information.

Sep 20, 2006