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The Tackle Box
Ralph B. Spoerl


The Tackle Box Takes to the Push Pole:

After a few months of fishing and a tournament or two, the Tackle Box has made some observations.  The item we’re pulling from the tackle box this time is a twelve-foot Push Pole, which has been buried deep in my rod-locker.  I considered it to be an “emergencies only” item aboard my boat.  Normally, when stuck, I’d use it to push my boat off sand bars or mud flats.  But, if you fish the pads and mats like I do, you’ll understand why it’s now become my mobile fishing tool of choice.

With summer comes big mats of weeds and big islands of lily pads.  They seem to appear just as the weather warms and the water gets hot.  Depending on the depth of the water, the temperature can be ten degrees cooler under them.  These spots also create oxygen and cover in the hot summer.  And that, my friends, is what draws the fish!

During casual fishing, and at the last couple of tournaments, I noticed that many of the winning fish have come out of the pads and mats.  We all go into those areas with our trolling motors blasting.  It’s tough work pushing that little motor through thick weeds and pads.  You know… chop, chop, chop, pick up the motor, clean it off, drop it back in, and again… chop, chop, chop…  We do this over and over again because that’s where the fish are.  Yes, we catch a few fish, but I think we probably spook twice as many as we actually catch—there’s just WAY too much noise! 

Let’s face it… most of the fish we do hook up with come with longer casts.  We need to keep in mind what the books tell us… fish hear two hundred times better than humans and sound travels faster underwater. Like all fishermen, we’ve lost good fish in those pads because of a long cast or a break-off.  In one situation, I broke off on fifty-pound braided line.  If you don’t break off, then you worry about when “Mr. Fish” will wrap your line around those lily pad stems sixty feet away.  By the time you chop your way to him, he’s off!  What can we do to eliminate this?  In some cases, absolutely nothing.  But what if we could get a little closer a little more quietly?  Would our odds change?

Someone once told me that whether you win or lose a fishing tournament, or you just get skunked on a regular fishing day, you should always take something with you when you leave the water.  With this in mind, I began to evaluate my weed fishing and some tournament situations I have had, as well as considering the effects of spooked fish due to the noise.  This brought to mind a bass tournament television show I was watching about a month or so ago.  The Pro that won the event on the show attributed his best days’ catches to the fish that came out of the pads.  He said that he was able to get up close and personal by slipping up to them very quietly using a Push Pole.  I’ve also heard this on a couple of other shows lately.  Seems there’s a trend developing here.  Interesting…

So, guess what? Because I love to fish in the heavy weeds and pads, I now have my Push Pole out and ready to go.  Yes, I’m bringing in a few more fish.  Is it the pole? Is it because I feel better being quieter and able to sneak up on the fish?  Who knows?  The one thing I will say is this: there’s definitely less chop, chop, chop, and a whole lot less clean up.  Oh, and there are also those two four-pounders in the live well!

I do find that it’s getting pretty hard to close the Tackle Box with that twelve-foot Push Pole in the way.  I may have to build a bigger box!