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Stay or Go?

Posted: November 26th, 2014 by Bill Dance

“How long should I fish a place before I move on?”

I’ve been asked that more times than Dalmatians have spots; and sometimes in one day, especially if I might be at a sporting event where a ton of anglers are around.

Some might say this is a beginner’s question. But actually, after several casts and throwing everything, including the famed kitchen sink at ‘em, the question: “Is it time to move on?” is often in the back of the mind of even the most seasoned veteran of the bass boat.

Fishermen have long been pondered just how long they should work to catch fish in a location. The whole ordeal is littered with question marks. Am I throwing the right bait? Am I fish the right depth? Is my presentation the best?

Sure, in time (and sweat and effort), the answer may become very obvious: “It’s just not happening; I gotta move.” But the question is always there; so let’s address it.

Confidence is the key. The moment confidence fades from the scene, it’s time to move on…or at the very least, it’s time to re-stock your faith in your ability.

If you don’t move on, you are just passing time…going through the famed motions. And more than likely, technique and concentration needed to actually catch fish is in your wake.

Normally, you should fish a spot until you have worked it thoroughly, at all depths and with a variety of baits, in different sizes, colors as well as used varied retrieves. How long will this take you? Well, that’s up to you. When are you confident that you have thoroughly covered an area?

Also, remember, even the correct lure fished at the wrong depth, and with the wrong retrieve is not going to yield fish. It’s simple in this case; you are not giving fish what they want, at the depths they’re holding.

Please bear in mind, that I am not side-stepping the question, by not giving you a precise amount of time to stay put and then move. What you need to note is that there are a lot of variables involved in fishing a spot thoroughly, and to truly cover them all, well, that is going to take time.

You have to have confidence in the spot from the start, too. More than likely when you fish a locale, it’s because you have confidence in it…either from past experience or that famed “gut feeling.”

But imagine yourself on a lake. You have an idea where the fish should be, but you will have to work longer to determine if the fish are there and cooperative. Rest assured, the veteran angler can work a locale faster than a beginner simply because he has more experience and his confidence allows him to believe sooner that he has done a thorough job.

Good, versatile anglers have great knowledge of a lake’s hotspots. They can approach some of them, make six or so casts, and know immediately whether or not it’s worth fishing the place any longer. Is this by way of a sixth sense? No, more than likely it’s through repeated days on the water and being very thorough. The time they have logged in the bass boat has transitioned into acute knowledge of when it’s time to stay… and when it’s time to move on.

Fish with knowledgeable anglers whenever you get the chance. I know they will be willing to help you learn to be more thorough, and to “read” a fishing spot. They can help you further explore and answer the question of when it’s time to fish, and when it’s time to fish elsewhere.

‘Til next time, catch one for me!

Bill Dance



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