St. Croix


Feature Article: Don't Forget

Don’t forget to remember

BY GEORGE KRAME/WON BASS ContributorPublished: May 15, 2019

A Florida pro named John Cox recently won an FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga, pulling out his winning fish in the final hour of the four-day contest. Because of the shake-up in the national tournament scene and so many anglers leaving the established tours for the made-for-TV version, we don’t know all the names like we used to.

This one was new to me, but what caught my attention in the report was his confession that he had “forgot” about a couple of tree lines where he had caught big fish previously, and only a late recollection allowed him to catch a couple of 4 pounders and earn a narrow win.

everynotablecatchEVERY NOTABLE CATCH is a building block. You want to remember what worked and use it elsewhere.

Funny. I sometimes forget spots too. And other stuff. The difference is, this fellow is 34 and I’m like way over that. Still, it’s a good lesson. Have you ever been under some duress with work or family and someone says, “Where’s Bob, you were supposed to pick him up?” or “Did you remember to bring the salsa?”


There are details that slip our mind. True, your sonar/GPS unit probably has lots of waypoints to help you locate past successes, but all I read on mine are some coordinates, not the details such as, “Wind out of the southwest, bait around the bushes, bigger fish on the lee side.”

It’s the details — not the number of choices available — that make you a better angler.

Back when I started in the 1970s, the big deal was to log each trip with all the weather and catch details. After a year and certainly after several years, the guys who were diligent had quite a portfolio. But with changing fishing styles (from anchor to trolling motor) meant there were more layers to keep track of all of the locations and times, depths and techniques all jammed up the same date in your catch book.

Still, it makes sense to me, especially for those who fish competitively, that you would want to look hard at past trip data and somehow record the details of your practice days. That’s because once the contest starts and you start clock-watching because you don’t have a limit in the livewell, you mentally start to press. And it’s then that those smart ideas and key details you were counting on don’t quickly come to your consciousness.

I thought a nice trend back in the late 1980s was pretty smart. Guys were carrying Dictaphones out with them, pausing from time to time to make a voice record that they could play back. I’m not exactly sure why these faded from use, except that sometimes people talk a lot and that slowed their fishing. Others hardly spoke into the mic at all, and ended up with next to nothing when they got back to their motel rooms.

specialmomentsSPECIAL MOMENTS LIKE a personal best are great. Andrew Kramer got his, netted by his brother Matt, whose own PB came within a few hundred yards. Same method, but different location.

Not much help either way.

While the very best pro anglers rarely lack for remembrance (even if they have to pull it out from years past), others of us wouldn’t mind the use of a cheat sheet or even a venerable old fishing log to cue us on what we might do. Even looking at old photos in your phone or a scrapbook could trigger a new successful idea.

Because, of course it was a good idea at the time — and it sure might be a good idea again — like maybe even tomorrow. With certain caveats, of course.

Even as I write this, I have notes stuck on my desk with suggestions on things I should try on my next trip. Of course, you know what complicates the matter today as opposed to yesteryear. Back in the 1970s I jumped in the boat with one spinning rod and two baitcasting rods (that I proudly wrapped myself).

But today, even with sticks in every corner of my office, there are also another 15 to 20 rods out in the boat. And if they sit in the locker, the principle of “Out of sight, out of mind” will manifest itself. Now, that may seem like a lot, but I just tell people: a boat is just an oversized golf bag.

The more we play, the more tools we employ. It’s only when we don’t use what we carry or attempt to find situations where some of those tools would be advantageous — then you’re right. I’ve got too many.

sometimesSOMETIMES WHAT YOU remember and learn from another angler (in this case, Dean Rojas at Lake Mead seven years ago) can help in a future situation.

Along the lines of remembering, here’s one of those caveats. The issue of sentimentality in your fishing is something you’re going to have to control.

As much as we cherished the moment, a good catch from a good area also has a down side. Experienced anglers know this, and yet, even they (we) can make a fatal mistake. The one of always pounding your “favorite spot” because, “Dang, we got ‘em here real good last (week, month, year or decade).”

Of course, you know the issue. You remember this one. You know how cool it was in the morning, how the bite felt, and how proud you were when you weighed it in and posted it on… wherever. Those sentimental feelings are etched in your being.

But what you might not be so clear on are: What time of year did it come? What was the water level, or temperature? What time of day was it? What direction was the wind blowing? Those and countless other details that moved those fish or that trophy to the spot where you ultimately set the hook.

Sorry to say it, but those fish will not always be there. But they could be in half a dozen other similar places that had the right conditions and you were using the appropriate tools. Question is, will you break your old routine and see what else is out there?

Use that memory as solid evidence that what you did on that scrapbook trip will work. And then apply what lessons you learned back then toward today’s trip. Or maybe the next one down the line. If it takes a notepad, Dictaphone, GPS or cellphone, that’s not the issue. Putting info to work is what makes you a better angler.

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