Would you please sit still!? No, we are not talking about behaving in church or in the barber’s chair; we are talking about fishing.
Fish are cold-blooded creatures. Therefore, their metabolism rises and falls with water temperature. As water cools, fish slow down. Successful anglers need to slow down in the cool months, too.
Presentations need to be slower and, perhaps most importantly, anglers need to consider the value of simply sitting still.
Now that helpful bird activity has developed on our local reservoirs, boats often congregate in the vicinity of such bird activity as it typically indicates the presence of gamefish feeding on baitfish. While being in close proximity with other boats, I have had the opportunity to observe what makes certain anglers successful while other anglers fishing for the same fish in the same areas with the same presentations fare poorly.
My conclusion is that those who remain in one productive area and work it thoroughly, far outperform those who constantly maneuver about using their trolling motor.
Regardless of the species of gamefish pursued, it is quite common to observe gamefish regurgitating partially digested baitfish and/or defecating as a stress response as they are being reeled in. If your boat remains fixed in one spot courtesy of modern technology, like the Spot Lock feature on the Minn Kota Ulterra trolling motor I use, these bits of regurgitated baitfish and feces sink back to bottom right beneath your boat.
These sinking bits of fish are every bit as attractive as intentionally thrown chum, yet only a boat remaining atop of this “chum” will stand to benefit from its fish-attracting qualities.
Beyond this, fish, and especially schooling fish — like white bass, hybrid striped bass and winter largemouth and smallmouth bass — will be attracted to the commotion created by a schoolmate being hooked and brought to the surface.
During the on-the-water sonar training sessions I offer, anglers are often amazed to see upward of one or even two dozen other fish following a hooked fish toward the surface once their sonar units are properly adjusted. When this occurs, this is a clear indicator that additional, willing fish remain beneath the boat. The angler prepared to quickly unhook and release the fish he has just landed and get his presentation back down to that active school of fish without allowing his boat to drift away from that vicinity will, more often than not, be rewarded with additional fish caught.
By remaining in one place until a bite has completely run its course, you stand to create a chain reaction that intensifies as more and more fish are landed.
But wait, there’s more! Beyond bits of baitfish sinking toward bottom and giving off attractive odors, and beyond hooked fish being followed by competitive schoolmates upward in the water column, there is also a “vibration factor” to consider. As your boat bobs on the waves, as your trolling motor propeller churns, as your presentation strikes bottom repeatedly, and as hooked fish struggle as they are being reeled in, vibrations are given off by all of these activities.
Fish have a sense that humans do not in the form of their vibration-sensing lateral line system. This lateral line organ is capable of detecting light vibrations at a distance. This system is so effective that it allows fish to feed in dark and/or muddy water conditions without the use of their sense of sight.
Focusing all of the vibration your fishing efforts produce into one area will often draw fish from around you and keep them beneath your boat where they fall prey to the other factors mentioned previously, and are then more prone to capture.
If you find yourself constantly moving slowly forward into the wind, as I dare say a majority of anglers tend to do, consider revisiting the way you control your boat. You will discover, as I have, that sitting still puts more fish in the boat.