This is a blog written as a reminder to me, about how I had given myself no chance to do well in the Lake St. Clair FLW Tour event. I make no bones about it: I do not like St. Clair at all. It is the only lake I fear. I said exactly that when the schedule was announced. St. Clair is probably one of the top five lakes right now, but strangely enough, I fear it.
How could that be? It all started with a bad attitude that kicked off a chain reaction that led to one of the most common mistakes anglers make – a mistake I often have to coach anglers out of in my coaching trips.
My bad attitude stemmed from the lake itself. In my opinion St. Clair is nothing but a silt pond for Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Think about it. The natural flow of current comes from Huron through the St. Clair River and into Lake St. Clair. Once it enters St. Clair, it swirls around the lake because of the bottleneck at the Detroit River, then goes into Erie. This causes the debris and sediment to fall to the bottom of the lake, which covers up all contours and boulders that were once exposed. You have to drive a mile out to get one foot of depth change.
Why did this affect me? In my mind, I have to put logic behind my decisions on the water. My thought process draws on reason. But when I would stop the boat to fish, all that ran through my mind was, “Why here and not a mile to the north or south or east or west?” I’d drive five miles, and it appeared to look all the same. That drove me crazy. My bad attitude created a lack of confidence.
Now, I have discussed this before in other blogs. Confidence does not catch fish. Even liars believe their lies, but that doesn't transform to reality. Confidence is a channel in which you navigate through to get you to a place where you can catch them. There are many channels that lead to the main channels. Just like all side roads lead to highways, and highways lead to interstates. But every day on the water we must choose what channels will lead us to the ultimate reward, which is catching bass. At St. Clair I always feel like I am running around lost in the woods with no road in sight. That is extremely dangerous. I allowed myself to run in circles and did not allow myself to figure a way out.
Please stay with me because I will get to the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel I have a good map that I can choose roads from to navigate my way to the main channel. That might be the drop-shot channel, wacky worm channel, deep crank channel, jerkbait channel, etc. You get the point. I am confident in each channel I choose. But here is where it gets deep in thought: I chose some of the channels that everyone else did. So, the question is, why didn't I catch them like everyone else?
It’s because I fell into a trap – a trap that catches many anglers. Then at about 1 o'clock the second day of the tournament, I pulled up to a spot, and the voice inside my head said, “I want you to feel for every blade of grass.” I started working my bait like I was truly the bait. BAM, I got a bite. The whole time I was fighting the fish I was basically chewing myself out. I was like, “You IDIOT, the very thing you coach other people not to do, you fell victim to.”
So, here is the most dangerous thing in fishing that happens all the time. READ CLOSELY. There is a huge difference in casting and retrieving your bait versus casting and fishing your bait. When you are casting and retrieving you will miss bites and not even feel them at all. You will not keep your lures where you need them to be in depth.
I have heard so many times from other anglers that they tried a lure and couldn't get bit when I threw the exact lure and caught 50. Or, you might have kicked someone’s butt in the same boat as you when the two of you were throwing the same thing. It usually happens because one angler is not fishing his lure, only casting and retrieving. That’s the trap I fell into at St. Clair. I had a bad attitude, which caused me to lack confidence in the channels I know how to run. And instead of FISHING my lure, I was just casting and winding.
Don’t make the same mistake as me. Don’t just cast and retrieve. Don’t just go through the motions. Feel every movement and every bit of contact. Focus harder on the bait, and avoid the most dangerous thing in fishing.
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