When I take a beginner fishing, I think of myself as a fishing guide. My goal is to put them on fish — soon and often. I set them up with my best educated guess of a lure, instruction of where to cast, and how to retrieve.

Then I do something completely different.

Even when fishing with more experienced anglers, I rarely throw the same lure, or retrieve it in the same manner. Through the process of elimination, the objective is to learn where the fish are and what they want, as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For example, if my son starts working a black rubber worm slowly along the bottom close to shore, I’ll cast a mid-column lures such as a crankbait, in deeper water. Or, maybe I’ll cast shallow too, but with a topwater lure. Even if we are confident the rubber worm is going to be the ticket to tugsville, I make sure to test a different color, depth, or speed of retrieve until we arrive at a solid pattern.

But what pattern worked yesterday, or even an hour ago, may not work now. By “covering your bases” and constantly presenting multiple techniques, you can “cover your basses” and discover what the fish want, where they want it, and maybe even what direction the bite may be moving, such as shallow to deep.

Discovery is part of fishing’s mystique, challenge, and fun. Every angler wants to be the one to solve the fishing riddle. And just because one lure or technique is working doesn’t mean that another might not work even better.

So, “what lure are you going to start with?” Because, I’m going to start with something else.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad. He says there are “people who fish”… and there are “fishermen”.  One of the few things he knows is that he is a “fisherman”...  To the point it could be classified as borderline illness.  Sharing this obsession is rewarding, therapeutic. He likes to encourage people to “stop and smell the crappie."  Enjoys catching fish, but gets a greater thrill out of helping someone else hook up.
Born in Florida, but raised on the banks of Oklahoma farm ponds. Now relocated to western Pennsylvania. He has fished, worked, lived all around the US.  He has a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State as well...
And he met his wife while electrofishing. He has been contributing weekly to www.takemefishing.org since 2011.