Things I've Learned - Major League Fishing

Things I’ve Learned

December 15, 2008 • Sean Ostruszka • Angler Columns

Certain events make you realize things. Saturday was one of those for me.

Being an associate editor for FLW Outdoors Magazines, one would think I get to go fishing whenever I want. Oh, if onlythat were true. Up until Saturday, the last time I’d been in a boat was early November. And the last casts I’d made were to test out some new lures I was making in a pond by my apartment. Talk about a dry spell. So when myself and a buddy of mine from the office, who shall remain nameless due to events that will be documented in this blog, decided to head out on Kentucky Lake this weekend I was pumped.

Two days later, the experience made me realize I’ve learned a lot in 2008. So, as the year that was gets closer to ending, I’m going to recap just a few, starting with …

1. I still have a lot to learn! The water temps were in the low 40s, which meant it should have been prime for a jerkbait bite on steep, rock banks. However, even with this knowledge, we went fishless. Why? We weren’t fishing “the right” rock banks. We frothed every steep, pea gravel bank we saw. But I came to find out later, it was the chunk rock points that were holding all the fish. Just a classic right bait, wrong location type of deal. And yet another example that I still have a lot to learn. Or course, don’t we all?

2. Natural lakes fish completely different from reservoirs… and I do mean COMPLETELY different. I grew up in the Midwest, so I’ve spent most my life fishing natural, weedy lakes. Put me on one of those suckers and I’ll find a fish. Put me on a reservoir, completely different story. I have rarely fished for bass deeper than 10 feet up North. No need. Down here, most of the fishing is below 10 feet! It’s like learning a whole new language, which makes what the pros do that much more impressive. They know how to fish both, along with rivers and deltas. I’m in awe of them even more.

3. Weather reports aren’t always accurate. I’ve known this for years, but it really came true Saturday. Reports called for 10 to 15 mph winds. Reality said sustained 20+ all day long. This brings me to my next point …

4. I’m not as stupid as I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I still have my moments. But remember those days when you were a teenager and you always thought you had to prove how tough you were? Man I’m glad I’m done with those. Back when I was 13 or 16, I would have seen 40 degrees and 20-mph winds and would have dressed in a light windbreaker, a long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans to prove I was “tough” enough not to get cold. And I would have turned my inner workings into an ice sculpture. Saturday, I dressed in multiple, multiple layers, including bids and a raincoat. In the wind and out I was never cold, making for a very enjoyable day regardless of the lack of fish. And despite the lack of rain, that rain coat was key for another reason …

5. Rough water and wind can get you wetter than a steady rain. Going across the swells that were rolling up Kentucky Lake, myself and my partner got drenched. And I’m not talking a spray of water here and there. I’m talking ducks could have landed in the pools of water on my rain coat. Yet, good rain gear meant I stayed dry, even when we took a wave wrong, the bow of the boat dipped under water, and a 2-foot wave IN the boat hit me square in the face. Because of good gear I was able to laugh it off, which I did after pointing out to my driver, who somehow managed to stay dry, that my socks were a little damp as I pointed to the pool of water draining out of the bottom of the boat.

6. It’s a skill to navigate rough water. Despite the multiple showers, I have to give credit to my partner for his driving ability. Navigating a boat in rough water is not an easy deal, and before any angler goes out into something like we did, they should have a lot of experience – and be a little crazy. My partner was both, which meant I wasn’t worried when we looked at the terrible waves, we looked at each other, he asked if we should go for it and I said yes. Now, when my butt came off the seat a few times I will admit my cheeks clenched a little. As did my hand, on anything I could dig my fingers into.

7. All that noted, I love this sport more today than I did yesterday and many times more than I did at the start of 2008. Between the fishing trips, people I’ve met and information I’ve learned I simply couldn’t be happier. I may not ever be good enough to fish the FLW Tour, but I will always have the passion for the sport just as the pros have. And that’s why fishless days don’t bother me so much. Because it’s the experiences that matter … though, to be honest, it probably wouldn’t have been too much to ask for just one keeper.

Slam the hooks!