Bob Jensen: Fishing your way, the way it should be

Bob Jensen
Ames Tribune

People who fish like to do so in different ways. Some like to park a lawn chair next to the riverbank, put a line or two in the water and wait for a fish to come along. Others prefer to troll. There also are those who stand on the deck of a boat casting for hours. Some would say that standing and casting for hours can be quite a workout, and it can be.

We should chase fish the way that is most enjoyable to us. The wonderful thing about fishing is that we can make it exactly, or almost exactly, what we want it to be.

A while back I took a couple of young anglers to a friend’s pond for a couple of hours. These were anglers who didn’t have a lot of fishing experience, so we used very basic equipment. We used a long, lightweight rod with no reel and about 6 feet of line tied to the tip of the rod. A tiny jig and a tinier piece of plastic was tied to the end of the line. We caught lots of bluegills that were no more than 5 inches long and a couple bigger ones. We also had a big bass bite our jig that provided 10 seconds of excitement (pandemonium) before it escaped.

This was simple fishing, very nice, very memorable. Some might think that our simple fishing gear was for rookies, and they’d be right. However, I have a friend who is an outstanding fishing guide, and in the spring when the crappies are in the shallows, he employs the exact same set-up.

And, you know what? My friend and his guests catch lots of crappies and have an outstanding time on the water. That rookie equipment helps an expert angler to lots of catches.

Trolling is a technique that most anglers can employ if they have a boat. Some boats are better for trolling, and some anglers are better at trolling, mostly because they’ve spent a good amount of time learning to troll. Trolling can be a laid-back technique if you want it to be. Tie on a bait, let it out behind the boat, put the boat in gear and you’re trolling. When you feel a strike, you reel it in. It can be a great way to spend a day, and you’ll catch some fish.

I’ve also fished with a good number of trollers who never sit still. They’re letting lines out and bringing them in all the time. They change baits to vary the color, size or running depth. They troll faster, then slower. Their eyes are constantly on the sonar unit watching for fish that might be deeper or shallower. They’re always changing something and they’re enjoying their style of trolling. And, they usually catch fish.

That brings us to electronics, sonar specifically. Electronics have come so far in the past few years, and they do so much more than show depth. They can show what’s to the side of the boat and in front of and behind the boat. Mapping systems within the units show your location on the body of water and the underwater structure around you.

Some anglers are really into the technology aspect of fishing. Some are a bit intimidated by it. They wonder if they need all those electronic features to catch fish. Us older anglers remember back when our electronics showed depth and maybe a fish every now and then. We caught lots of fish. However, I’m certain we catch more fish now, and some or much of that is because of modern sonar and such.

Many of us older anglers, though, don’t use the modern electronics like we could or maybe even like we should. We like to fish the way that we like to fish, and that’s the wonderful thing about fishing. We can almost always find a way to fish the way that we most like to fish – just as it should be.

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