07/14/12

Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
Hatching:
1.    BWOs (Eastern)
2.    Green Sedges (Caddisflies)
3.    Cream Cahills
4.    Little Yellow Stoneflies (Little Summer Stones)
5.    Slate Drakes
6.    Little Green Stoneflies

Most available/ Other types of food:
7.    Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
8.    Inch Worm (moth larva)
9.    Beetles
10.  Grasshoppers
11.  Ants

How To Become A Better Angler - Part 2 - Introduction
Although I've mentioned it many times, and although I don't have to tell those that have read
much of anything I have written, I'm not a good writer. That's not my thing. It highly involves
the very things I paid the least attention to in school. I often say "I are an engineer, not a
writer". I say that having written for several national fishing and boating magazines, even
though they usually had to put everyone in the editing department on overtime. I'm good at
writing in the present tense, past tense and outer space tense - in the same sentence.

Anyway, back to the subject of becoming a better angler, I guess you could say that
yesterday, I wrote the introduction to this series. I didn't call it that. The title was a question -
What is the difference in a truly good angler and a mediocre angler?  I started it off that way
because of a video a few years ago. I called it "How to become a better angler". In that video,
I outlined the steps I think one should take to become a better anglers but in a text book
fashion. Although the content was correct, it doesn't keep the attention of the viewer on the
main subject very well. Viewers would stay glued to the screen looking at all the fish being
caught but in the end, they didn't absorb the main points I tried to get across very well.
That's why, I'm going to use a different approach in this series of articles. It in essence will be
a series of mini, short stories. If you will read them and keep up with the series, I feel like at
some point along the way, the steps it takes to become a better angler will become obvious
to you much in the same way they did to me.

Like many fly anglers, bass anglers are even more prong to worry about the particular lure
they use far more than they worry about other things usually more important. You hear it all
the time - what fly did you catch them on? I've heard the same question posed all my life -
what lure or fly did you use? It doesn't matter what type of fishing it is, you see and hear it
more than anything else - I caught them on a such and such.

How To Become A Better Angler - Part 3 - The Little Green Worm
One of the earlier national BASS tournaments I fished was at Buggs Island Lake or John Kerr
Reservoir in Virginia. I'm sure the lake is completely different from what it was back in the late
1970's but at that time, all the coves and creeks coming into the main lake and even areas
along the banks of the main lake was covered with what the locals called buck bushes. When
the water level was down during the Winter, the areas that would be under water during the
high water of Spring would grow up with the little buck bushes. They were about 3 to 6 feet
high and covered with green leafs about the time they started to raise the lake level.

This particular year, the week long tournament (3 practice days, 3 tournament days) was
during May. It has rained heavily the previous week and the water was even higher than
normal just prior to the event. The little buck bushes were the major structure in the lake at
the time and they were completely under water. I can remember that some of the tops of the
bushes were well below the surface the first practice day. The lake was falling and the water
was clearing up fast. Every one of the 300 anglers in the tournament knew that falling water
levels causes the bass to move off of the banks onto structure in the lake. Again, at that
time, the main structure in the lake was the little bushes. Of course, there was other structure
the bass moved off the banks to but the great majority was the bushes that made the perfect
hiding spot for the largemouth bass. There was acres and acres of them in most all the
coves and creeks.

The first practice day, I caught lots of bass along the banks. The second day that number fell
drastically. The third day, I caught little, if anything, from the banks and spent most of my
time fishing the green buck bushes. The problem was, the third day produced very few fish. I
don't remember the numbers, of course, but I do remember going into the first competition
day without a good game plan.

The fishing partner I drew for the first day was as lost as I was. I don't remember what we did
exactly, but I do remember we ran all over the lake in panic looking for fish. We both
weighted in a very few small ones and probably wasn't in the top 100. On the other hand,
many anglers had some big bags of bass. It was obvious many others knew what they were
doing.

As usual, those that fished with a highly successful partner the first day, told his second day
partner what the deal was. You get together with the second day guy just after the first day's
weigh-in. The word about what the big strings of bass came on leaks out to those lucky
enough to draw one that was either successful the first day or at least one that fished with
someone that was successful. I wasn't quite that lucky but i did draw a guy that had seen lots
of bass caught the first day from a distance. According to him and the gossip around the
dock, they were caught mostly on little green worms. In this case, we even knew where they
were caught, which is something far more important than what they were caught on. They
were caught off of the buck bushes on the shallow flats. My second day partner declared he
had witnessed that.

Off we head to the same area, full of confidence with a boat load of little green worms. It was
the same area he had witnessed a few of the top leaders on the scoreboard catch bass
during the first day. To make a long story short, we beat our brains out casting the little
green worms
around the buck bushes. About every forth cast, I would get it close enough
to the bushes to hang up and have to break off and of course, run all the bass off that might
have been holding in the bush. We caught about the same as I had caught the first day - a
very few bass but again, not enough to even make the top 100. I was depressed and in big
trouble as far as making the payout list.

After the second weigh-in, I drew a guy that was near the top. I don't remember exactly where
he ranked, but he was within the top 40 or the money list. I didn't put up much argument as
to where we would fish. I was glad to draw someone that was catching bass after five straight
days on the water with less and less success each day. I asked him what he was using and
guess what - he was using, you got it, a little green worm.

The third day we headed to a different location a cove or two up the lake but the water
looked the same. When the boat stopped, I couldn't tell the difference in what I had fished
the day before and the spot he was fishing. There were buck bushes in the water with the
tops about level with the water that looked identical to the same area we fished all day the
second day. The water depth was almost the same. I began to worry from the time the boat
stopped but not for long. He boated a nice bass within the first few minutes on the "little
green worm". It was almost identical to the little green worm I had fished the day before. I
begin to get pumped up and settled down to highly concentrate on fishing the worm but it
wasn't but just a few minutes that I had to drop my rod and grab the net to net his second
bass.

That did it. I said let me see that worm your using again. He opened his tackle box and
tossed me a few on the floor of the boat. It was almost the same worm I was using. I then ask
to see the one he had tied on. He poked it up close to my face and I noticed he was using a
much larger bullet shaped slip sinker worm weight that I was. I was using a small one and he
was using a much larger, heavier one. I didn't notice until he said "I'm pegging the head of
the weight with a piece of a tooth pick". He continued to tell me that it helped to prevent the
worm from hanging in the bushes as bad as the Texas style rigged slip weight.

I quickly re-rigged my worm the same way. After a lot more cast, I still had not caught a fish. I
begin to watch his cast. He was tossing the worm right into the top of the buck bushes and
letting it fall straight down. He would then jig it up and down a time or two, proceed to pull it
completely out of the buck bush and make another cast to a different bush or a different
area of the same bush. After asking about that, he let me know I should try to get the worm
right down in the middle of the bushes.

The water was very clear and the bass were not holding around the bushes. They were in
the middle of the bushes which were covered with leaves that a few days before the
tournament, were growing out of the water on the dry land. The high pressure days, the sky
was clear and the bass were not prone to come out of the bushes and take a lure of any kind
but if one was put in front of their nose, they would grab it. It was entirely a matter of getting
the worm right in the center of the thickest part of the bush without getting hung up. You
couldn't pull the worm through the bushes, but you could peg the head of the lead and let it
drop over the limbs straight down into the bush. You had to do that from a distance or
otherwise the boat would spook the bass in the bushes.

That last afternoon, the water was so clear I actually spotted two bass I caught hiding within a
bush. I weighted in very nice bag of bass the third day along with my partner. He got a check
(don't remember what he placed) and I didn't. I was two days late wising up.

Catching bass probably had a little to do with using a little green worm but
certainly, much, much more to do with exactly where and exactly how the little
green worm was placed and fished.

I know now that any small worm I could have managed to get down into the middle of the
bushes without hanging would probably have worked. At that time, I was far from being a
good angler and not even in the ball park of being professional. I was just one of the huge
majority of anglers that back then and still today, pay too much attention to the lure or fly and
#1, not near enough attention to exactly where in the lake or stream, it is fished and #2, not
near enough attention as to exactly how it is fished.

Having the right fly, lure or even the right natural or live bait is only a step in the
right direction. It's not ever the key to success.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh