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               Spring 2005 Issue


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Doing Your Homework
by Mark Leadens

Every year after year I run into all kinds of anglers while working the sport shows that have a lot of hope and are filled with excitement for the coming season. They come looking for something new, something that might give them an edge over a fish that can play extremely hard to get. Theyíre also looking for information, anything tip that might help them put an extra fish or two in the boat this coming season.  Manufacturers respond by trying to meet the demands and develop new and improved products that will help make the job of finding and catching fish easier, and more enjoyable. Theyíre also trying to keep a leg up on their competition, which can be a good thing. The first part of the equation is attracting the fisherman, and then the fish. No matter how good it is, if the public isnít attracted to the new product it will never get in front of a fish.

Lures are where a lot of the attention is placed and there is almost always some thing new being promoted and it may be a size, shape, scent, color, or even rattle. Once the rage, scent has settled down and now occupies an important niche and can make a real difference in the right situation. Rattles have been the craze for the last few years and bass and walleye anglers in the know have been cashing in on their effectiveness. The new plastic minnow imitating baits have a better than real look and are catching fish in places only live bait was used before.

Boat design has also been a driving force in the new and improved category and there are more sizes and models in more price ranges than ever before. Ranger boats has added to their line-up this year with a new 1850 Reata multi purpose rig that is equally at home on the bigger lakes like Mille Lacs, where you may be either slowly trolling a live bait rig or anchoring up for walleyes, or the smaller variety where you might be casting for big largemouth bass or pulling somebody on a tube. Itís hard to find a boat that does everything well but the 1850 comes as close as you can and is proving to be a real hit with families that have multiple needs.

Electric trolling motors still do what they used to, but now they do it better, much better. MinnKota has been at the forefront of innovation and has developed some neat new features. The new Maxxum Pro for example has a lift assist which greatly reduces the lifting weight of the motor in the down position. The newer, bigger, more powerful trolling motors are definitely heavier, and the lift assist makes the job of pulling the motor out and back into the rest position a whole lot easier. Another feature involves their Vector motors which rotate three times farther than the handle is moved. A small move one way or the other rotates the motor almost 360 degrees. The transom model is extremely effective for back trolling and makes a hard turn possible, allowing you to stay with an inside turn, or on a point, or exactly where youíve found the mother load.

Although all of those improvements and innovations are important, the thing that is most often overlooked is knowledge. Knowledge is the surest ticket to catching more fish, and there really arenít any shortcuts.  Reading every article and book you can find on the subject, or viewing CDís or video tapes, or attending seminars is part of the education process and there are plenty of great sources available. The days of secret baits, lures, or methods are pretty much gone and you can now find out exactly how the Proís are able to do what they do. Money really isnít the answer, and a new rig and new gear wonít immediately elevate you to a higher level as an angler. That has to be earned, the hard way, although itís not nearly as hard is it used to be.

The thing to realize is that at some point the Pros had to start from scratch too, and earned their fish finding and catching capabilities by taking the same road. The time spent getting to the next level can be as quick as you want, depending on how much time youíre willing to spend at it. If you get involved and get after it you can see real results almost immediately, although it wonít all come at once. What youíre likely to find is that under certain situations you can find and catch a specific species of fish. With more time on the water and more investigating youíll start to catch fish under a variety of conditions, and when your proficiency as an angler is greatly improved.

Once you get to that level youíre beginning to achieve an overall awareness which can help you to understand and catch more walleyes, more bass, more panfish, or whatever it is youíre after. From there you can become more proficient at catching a variety of species, and have an opportunity to enjoy all of that which is available to you, and there is plenty.