Why ask why?
Last updated 3/14/2023 at 6:52pm
Not too long ago I read a very interesting quote, “In your thirst for knowledge, be sure not to drown in all the information- Anthony J. D’Angelo” which sparked a thought and subsequent conversation with several other anglers. Over a cold beverage with the tailgate dropped down a “redneck think tank” evolved and all manner of observations about the great sport of fishing began to be debated, deliberated, cussed and discussed all at the same time. The myriad of topics that were addressed ran the gamut from truly serious to just plain silly. After some time had passed and we were out of theories the group dispersed and each member left the gathering enlightened in some ways and yet still curious in others. For me it was both a reminder and an example of just how inquisitive fishermen really are.
One of the really cool things I enjoy about being a guide is the interaction with so many people from varying backgrounds and experience. It really makes no difference if the folks on my boat are the most seasoned anglers or the newest rookies, they all have great stories and most of all they have great questions. Fishermen as a whole are generally wired to be problem solvers, seekers of answers to a great puzzle. Often times I feel like the man who lives on top of the mountain that’s supposed to have all the answers for the pilgrims who seek the “truth”. Those pilgrims make the great trek to the top of the mountain with high expectations for technical answers that will unlock the great mysteries that plague them only to find out those answers are much simpler than they could imagine.
Reflecting on years of interaction with customers I started thinking about some of the questions that I get asked most often and the first one that came to mind actually made me laugh. I don’t care who you are or where you are from if you have spent anytime in a boat on the coast the question of “why do mullet jump” has been debated. I have no clue on how many times I have been asked that question and I smile every time it comes up. Usually kids are the ones who ask that question the most but adults certainly ask their share as well. In most instances I try to give an informed answer such as “they jump to knock off parasites” or “to loosen egg sacks before the spawn”. I also remind the person who asked the question that nobody really knows but the mullet, everything else is just speculation except when they jump to avoid a predator. Perhaps the best answer I ever heard to that question came from a young angler who said “they jump because they are happy and jumping is fun”. Probably some of the coolest logic I have ever heard.
Another debate that rages in my boat centers around why fish do what they do or how come they act in one way or another. I have sat back and listened to some very knowledgeable folks argue their point with their partners and then turn to me like I’m the judge on People’s Court to render a decision. My standard answer on the subject comes from my good buddy Doug Pike who enlightened me one day while we were wading on Sabine. When asked about fish behavior Pike summed it up by saying “fish are worried about two things, what they are going to eat and what is going to eat them, beyond that not much else matters”. All the intricate theories about how they live, why they do certain things, and most anything else is again at best speculation. Trying to come up with a detailed day to day “activity planner” for a fish in my opinion does nothing but complicate a simple process. I tell folks in my boat if you can find food, structure, and some tide start there and work your way to a full stringer. Keep your approach simple and the majority of the time you’ll be rewarded for it.
Speaking of keeping things simple I was driving through town a few days ago and stopped next to a "rocket ship" disguised as a bass boat. While I was waiting for the light to turn green I was looking over the layout of the boat and just could not believe how crazy some folks have gotten with their electronics. The console of this boat looked like you could land the space shuttle, play Call of Duty, and write a research paper all at the same time, it was absolutely crazy! The screens on the drivers console were at least 12 to 15 inches apiece, so large in fact I wondered how the steering wheel would turn. The front deck had another massive screen on it as well, nearly as large as the ones on the console. I thought it was the perfect size to kick, no way could you miss it. I have no idea how in the world anyone would have time to fish while monitoring the big screens and evidently searching for life in other solar systems. My goodness that was a sight. I realize there is a need for some of that but how much is enough and when do you begin to fish? Where is the stopping point? All the electronics in the world are worthless if you don’t possess the skills to interpret the information. Soon it just becomes paralysis by analysis where the angler no longer reads the conditions because they are so dependent on “electronic crutches”. Take in all the variables, both electronic and natural, so you can fish in any situation.
As the spring season gains momentum more and more anglers will be out on the water looking for a chance to shake off the winter cobwebs. The consistent breeze that will plague most bay systems during April will do a number on water clarity and visibility so any advantage an angler can get at this time is a great help. Quality eyewear is a must for any angler and often times can be the difference between catching a fish and missing an opportunity. There are some fantastic companies out there that make great eyewear for every situation. For the past several seasons I have been wearing polarized glasses from Bajio and I have been very happy with both their performance and durability. I particularly like their light weight and absence of rubber on the frames. Nothing is worse than having sunscreen or insect repellant melt or gum up the ear or nose pieces on your glasses, it’s nasty and annoying. The clean frames and great glass combine for a very functional pair of eyewear that I really like. I know I can certainly tell a difference when I fish, especially while sightcasting. If you get an opportunity to check them out be sure to give them a try, they are a great product.