George Kramer's Blog

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Monday, November 30, 2009
Three things for December
Monday, December 14, 2009
The worm biz

No pattern is good, too

I got to thinking about pattern fishing again recently and it struck me that sometimes our desire to be so smart, so right and so efficient regarding “what the fish are doing,” we don’t catch some that were right there waiting for us.

I think we forget that our ability to "prove" or confirm a pattern can be interrupted by a number of things like having to run long distances between like pieces of cover or structure or too much fishing/boating pressure blocking us from looking elsewhere or even a lake so small, it doesn’t have much of anything that looks similar.   

Pattern fishing: finding shared fish behavior in areas with cover and depth similarities are fundamental to efficient bass fishing. I won't tell you different.  But patterning is based on deduction. In other words, you need to avoid the temptation to "look for a pattern," but rather, like those CSI guys, you need to gather the evidence and let it tell you what matters.

Sometimes all that’s required is a sonar reading, and that will get you to a key depth (of fish or forage) or some structural detail. When you start casting, you use things that typically work at the depth you are observing activity. If you are on target, pick the right color, size and speed of retrieve—and you get the fish to bite—you have the makings of a pattern.

But once the fish stop biting, or at least you stop catching them, you may have to run 12 miles to the next similar spot, or you may only have to run across to the other side of the cove—except there are four boats over there.

Do you have a pattern, or did you just hit a good spot?

We can’t answer that if we can’t get there to prove we are on to something. But even if we have misjudged which things are most important, say cover and lure speed, or lure type and angle of retrieve, we got bites doing “something” and that can help us along the way.

But it’s been rare in my experience that a pattern is so well-defined and so consistent, that mine was truly was better than any other approach. Most of the time, I’m not sure it’s the extra red flake, the black bloodline or the Mylar on the tail that is the actual difference in getting or not get the fish to respond. But by continuing to generally do what I did to get the first bite usually ends up producing more.

But what’s the goal? To find the best pattern, or catch a fish?

If the tales emanating from the U.S. Open this past summer are true, champion Gary Dobyns pushed a reaction bait pattern over much of Lake Mead. However, he also stopped for a few moments in what he deemed likely places, and caught fish on a jig, not a jerkbait or crank.

It wasn’t magic. Others from Bobby Murray, winner of the first Bassmasters Classic or back-to-back Open champ Aaron Martens have broken their patterns to fish “what looked good,” and weighed fish from both categories.

When you think about it, a pattern is just a tool that may streamline your search. But remember also tapping places where your experience tells you a bass could likely be should never be ignored.

Bass columnist George Kramer, who thinks a knife and fork are also good tools, can be reached by email at


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