It happens to me more than I would like. It may also happen to you more than you would like. It’s going fishing and not catching any fish.
That’s one of the reasons that, as an angler, you search out information to decrease the odds of getting skunked the next time you take to the rivers or lakes.
You call fly shops, talk to fishing guides, pick the brains of local sporting goods store employees, read the fishing reports in the Missoulian and listen to my radio show — just to get some insight from as many sources as possible.
You head out to the waters full of confidence that you have a plan and a sound strategy. Then it happens again – no fish.
I am bringing this out in the open not because I have recently been scolded for giving someone promising fishing information that eventually led to no bites on the water. I am here to tell you that having a great day fishing, and bad day catching, can and does happen more than we would like to admit. At least, it does for me.
We all know that conditions like weather can change the way fish bite from one day to another. I once interviewed bass fishing pro Roland Martin, from the nationally-broadcast TV show “Fishing with Roland Martin.”
Martin, like other TV anglers, always seems to sound and act on his show like every time they hit the water they catch fish. During the course of the interview, however, I asked Martin if he in fact had caught fish every time he went. Without hesitation Martin said, “No Way.”
After hearing that, at least I felt better.
A couple of years ago, I went fishing for salmon, when they were still plentiful in Hauser Lake over by Helena.
When I pulled up to the boat ramp, an angler walked briskly over to me to tell me that he had made the journey over from Missoula to fish for salmon based on great report he had heard on my radio show. He continued to tell me that he had been on the water for a day and a half and hadn’t caught anything yet. I explained to the frustrated angler to have patience and suggested a couple of things for him to try.
Last week I heard on my radio show from one of the reporters that the walleyes were biting like crazy on Hauser and Holter lakes. I decided to try both lakes in the same day since I was in the area.
I started on Holter at 8 a.m. and fished till 1 p.m. I never had a bite.
I then headed over to Hauser Lake and got on the water about 5 p.m. The radio report said to fish the Causeway so that’s where I headed.
I was on the water only about an hour when I trolled by another angler in another boat. “Are you ripping any?,” he asked. I told him it had been a quiet day for me so far.
“It was red hot till about 4 p.m. then it shut off I haven’t had a bite since,” he reported. I asked him if he had caught anything with size and he reached in his cooler and proudly held up a 4 or 5 pounder.
“I had been picking one or two up every pass,” he said. “Plus, my partner who I was fishing with earlier caught and released a 10.2 pound walleye. I weighed it on my digital scale.”
I asked him what he was using and he told me a green floating jighead tipped with a leech. I wished him luck and quickly changed to the same jig/bait combination on the end of my line. I had renewed confidence. At least, now I knew I was in the right area and had the offerings the fish would take. Finally, about 3 hours later at 9 p.m., I caught a walleye.
For the day, I had put in over 12 hours on the water. I fished two lakes where the fish were suppose to be biting, I caught one fish!
What radio show was that again? Hmmm, fishing reports – they’re great information, and they’ll give you a running start at catching a fish, but we all still have days when even the best information available has a hard time helping to put fish in the boat.