Larry's Fishing Hole

Presentation and Feel

  There are a lot of presentations and baits to learn about but for this article we will presume we are using the right bait and concentrate entirely on presentation skills of fishing and mostly on the feel. There are many things or skills to learn and try in the sport of fishing. Each day we spend on the water is a day in learning fishing but even with a lifetime of fishing trips we cannot master them all.
  We heard a talk some years ago about this subject that truly helped us and we wish to share some of the skills we learned from it. One thing we were told was to make every cast a lesson in presentation skills.
  Letís start by imagining you are fishing by feel and if so, you will notice that each lure has a different feel from others as you retrieve them. It may be a different pull, the thump of your spinnerbait or wobble of a crankbait. This lesson of feel also helps to know when a lure is being fished right or is working properly to attract fish.
  Many fish such as bass, catfish and walleye are on or near the bottom relating to structure (bottom changes) or cover (such as timber or weeds) with a few other fish in mid-water range or near the surface where the cover is emerging near the surface. With cold weather coming in couple months, more and more of these fish will be holding in deeper water near the bottom during winter months. Just like your lures have a different feel, each bottom type also has a different feel you will need to learn such as stumps, rocks, sand, mud, gravel, ledges, drop-offs, bushes, different weed types, etc. Knowing what each section of bottom feels like will help to keep your bait on or close to the bottom as well as when to do so.
  We found this is more important when we started fishing for walleye that spend most all their time near the bottom. And as we drift fished for those big bottom dwelling BlueCatfish on Lake of the Ozarks while fishing with our friend Paul. Sometimes to keep our baits on or close to the bottom requires us to strip slack line off so the bait falls to the bottom at which point the line goes slack and you may find yourself catching a lot of fish right then.
  It is important to know if you are getting hits or just bumping objects like wood, weeds, rock, brush, etc. If you keep track of what kind of bottom you are feeling when you catch fish, you can develop a pattern to repeat on other spots. Generally, a clear bottom holds less fish than where you feel irregularities or objects on the bottom.
  In drifting or trolling, you will also need to learn how to freespool line out to keep occasional contact with the bottom as you go up and over big rocks, humps or ledges. We find it best to be prepared to drop the bait down instantly as we go over a bottom depression, the side of a ledge or drop off as this is where fish will position and many hits will come on the fall. The bottom line is your bait must be on or near the bottom to be effectively fishing for majority of these fish.
  With soft baits there are many times we never feel the bite but we feel the fish moving away with the bait. This will be another feel you should detect as being different. This will help you to know when to set the hook and not pull the bait away too soon but still you may not need to set the hook immediately either. Just another skill to learn is to determine how long you should wait to set the hook. A consideration here is if you plan to catch and release a fish, it is more desirable not to hook that fish too deeply.
  If you concentrate on these skills of presentation and feel, you may find this to mean more than what lure or color you are using.
  No one, even the Pros catch fish every time, but the potential is always there and it takes practice, practice and practice to increase your catch ratio.
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