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“Fishing in the Moment”
By Eric Foister

 

This past Spring I had the opportunity to talk with Terry Bolton an FLW pro who has had great success on Ky Lake as well other stops along the trail over the last ten years or so.  One of the things he mentioned was that he uses his practice time as a benchmark and builds upon what he learned in practice and then just lets the fish tell him what to do during the tournament. He never gets caught up in where he caught his fish as much as how and why. The phrase “fishing in the moment” is just that.  We have all heard about Tournament Pros running 25 miles to fish one bank or ledge because “it felt right”.  Learning to trust your own instincts and being open minded will definitely open doors for you.  I had a recent experience that opened my eyes big time to this.

I had the opportunity to fish the Anglers Choice Regional on Ky Lake the last week of October.  I have a vacation place on South Barkley so I am down there quite a bit and have a lot of confidence in both Barkley and Ky Lake.  My partner and I finished 15th at the Midwest Sportsman Classic the first week of October.  We lost a couple of key fish that would have put us in the top 5. Needless to say we were excited going into the tournament.  We had been on fish in South Barkley for over a month and assumed we could stay with them.  Due to my work schedule we could only practice the day before.  We had 2 bites and one keeper. It just did not feel right.  The shad were not as active and were really scattered.  Our traveling partners whacked them on Ky Lake south of Paris .  I had never fished south of Paris before but we knew we had nothing going on Barkley.  We decided to go fishing and just read the water and let the fish tell us what to do.  We ended up 5th after day one with 14.4 lbs and 12th overall. We brought in limits both days. We caught fish totally different than our traveling partners. This experience really opened my eyes about trusting your instincts and making good decisions. 

It all starts out with practice.  We have all heard about guys talking about how they found fish in practice but they weren’t there in the tournament.  Practice should be about finding as much detail about what the fish are doing as possible, not so much about finding the winning spot.  Especially in a multi day format when you need to mange your fish and even be more open minded.  I have mentioned in previous articles that I have a philosophy that fish are in two areas.  Feeding areas and living areas and its important you know which is which.  Sometimes in practice NOT getting any bites is as good as getting a ton of bites.  Skeet Reese is a prime example.  It was well publicized about how he had a terrible practice and just went out fishing and brought in 15lbs.  It’s all about fishing the moment.

In my opinion a feeding area is determined by weather conditions, food availability, and timing.  When guys say they found fish and they were gone the next day is probably due to them finding a feeding area.  In feeding areas you can catch fish on fast moving baits and reaction type baits because the fish are actually feeding on something and are aggressive.  For example if you find fish on south facing flat shallow points with wind on them one day and the wind changes direction, you need to fish similar points with wind on them that are facing in another direction.  EVEN IF YOU NEVER FISHED THEM IN PRACTICE.!!  This sounds simple but we have all lived and died with one area because we caught fish there the day before and were afraid to fish somewhere blind. 

Living areas are much more reliable and can really put you in a position to win big tournaments.  Living areas to me are 45 degree banks adjacent to flats or points, off the end of deep ledges, sweet spots in grass flats, or channel banks.  When you find fish on these places it is not as dependent on weather or other factors which make them more reliable.  We have all read about guys fishing grass early around the edges then flipping the mats when the sun comes up.  Flipping gets them where they live. Guys fishing boat docks after 10 am is another prime example.  That’s where the fish “live”.  Multi-day tournaments are almost always won with a combination of both types of places.  Usually the weights are down the second day and guys that have better weights the second day move way up.  Anglers Choice was case in point.  None of the top 5 teams from day one finished in the top 10 on day two.  We had a limit both days which made us feel good because we were the only top 5 team to do that.

Combining understanding of living and feeding areas can really help you catch more fish in tournaments.  Trust yourself and the next time your fishing and it gets tough, fish in the moment!!

Eric Foister
Huntington , IN