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What do you do next?

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You have a fish follow in and turn away... what do you do next? You have a fish hit and miss him..what do you do next? You catch a fish...what next. You get a couple out of one spot and then nothing..what next. Thought it would be interesting to hear what you guys do. Remember "there are no wrong answers" don't you hate when they say that.

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If I have a fish show himself, by a swirl on the surface, or a missed hit, I pick up a senko type bait and throw to that spot. “60% of the time, it works every time” Seriously, I keep a senko tied on at all times, ready for just such a situation. 

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:rolleyes:so then with those odds, how could you ever miss more than 40% every time?

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You have a fish follow in and turn away... what do you do next? It depends.... had a fish swirl once and let out 10 feet of line, stuck rod a foot or so in water and let the crank waffle in the current and he came back and ate it. Mostly just figure the fish saw me and go back to what I was doing.

You have a fish hit and miss him..what do you do next? It depends... if I stop and think for a half second I do nothing and then continue to work the lure, maybe change the retrieve a little. When not thinking I reel up and recast.

You catch a fish...what next. The happy dance of course! Recast hoping there are some more there.

You get a couple out of one spot and then nothing..what next. Used to move on, now I'll change to a similar lure with different action or even slow down going from a crank to a jig. Although if I'm limited on time I'll figure I got the active fish and will move on to find other active fish.

 

Glad to see you posting again. Always enjoyed your posts, questions, diagrams etc. and they made think more critically about how I fished.

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  • Scott Ferguson
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If I have a fish show himself, by a swirl on the surface, or a missed hit, I pick up a senko type bait and throw to that spot. “60% of the time, it works every time” Seriously, I keep a senko tied on at all times, ready for just such a situation. 


  • I heard you're suppose to wait until you feel the weight of the fish before you set the hook on top water. I usually start looking around get distracted, get startled and set the hook too soon so it's good for me to have a follow up bait like you said. In real clear water when fish miss a topwater bite you can see them searching the surface for what they missed.
  •     If a fish follows I've pulled off the "musky figure eight" with a crank bait occasionally. If they follow and there is a piece of cover near by sometimes they'll go to that. If there's a rock or some wood run the next cast by it. I've had fish hang under the boat and come out and hit the next cast. Bill Calhoun told me about fishing the eddy  your body creates in the current.Fish follow in and settle in behind you or just end up there. It's crazy to drop your lure right next to your feet and get a good fish.Dan Gapen calls this body fishing. We might be able to add the question what to do when you hook a fish and several are following along.

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Fun topic. If I am wading or bank fishing and I think the fish saw me move after following, I sometimes will reposition myself, try to be more stealthy, and cast the area from a different angle. Also, if a fish follows, but does not strike, I take that as an indicator that I'm attracting the fish, but something about the presentation is not triggering them, so I might try a presentation with  more triggering qualities  I learned that from steelhead fishing. Many times I have fished a run meticulously in a grid pattern with a float rod with spawn/beads, then make a cast with a spinner and catch a fish on the first cast. This has happened so many times that even though it is a hassle, I always carry a two piece spinner rod in the back of my vest when steelhead fishing and always fish a spinner after the float before moving on. I would say this has upped my catch 20-30%. Regarding fish that get hooked but escape, I figure that the memory span of a fish is fairly short, and since the fish went for the presentation, I let the spot rest for a few minutes, then make the same presentation, perhaps from a different angle. It might not apply to smallmouth fishing, but it is amazing to see how the mood of a group of fish can be radically changed by chumming (where legal). Back in the good old days of perch fishing, by anchoring and having multiple guys fishing minnows, you would get a spot to "fire" into a feeding frenzy once the amount of bait in the water increased from minnows getting stolen, and the fish getting attracted and competitive  by the activity. Where it is legal, trout and steelhead guides do the same thing by flipping out spoonfuls of loose eggs into a run, or fishing in a hot water discharge with the same result. If you can get the fish into a competitive state, their willingness to bite increases. I think this is what happens when you have multiple following fish. Best thing to do then is to keep the hooked fish in the water if he is solidly hooked, and another angler flip in a Ned, tube or Senko.

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27 minutes ago, John R. Flannery said:

, I figure that the memory span of a fish is fairly short,

I was involved with a smallmouth tagging study one time we tried to tag 10 fish every mile usually at a bridge pool. You'd catch the fish measure him, take a scale sample to figure out the age, clip a specific side fin that would identify him as a tagged fish (the tags get algae on them hard to see) and put a T tag in him that would wedge inside and has a phone number on it. Many times while I was fishing the pool I would recapture a fish that we had just tagged a few minutes ago.

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Good point, Phil. My guess is that their capacity for memory is not more than a few minutes. Even after a hard fight, I have caught the same steelhead out of a hole 10 minutes after I caught him the first time on several occasions. When we had a cabin up north, my dad and I caught the same 18" smallmouth that had a split fin nine times in one summer. 

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Good stuff. If I miss a fish I'm trying to check hooks for sharpness. Many times the rods out of position to set the hook or I'm not focused in. Sometimes you need a mercy fish that hooks himself. I've been fooling with circle hooks thinking it would help the less experienced fisherman I take out but they help me too.

As far as catching one usually just repeat what I just did. If I get two a lot of times I change lures to see if something else works or try different hook types or rigs what ever I'm working on (try a Ned RIG). If I get two or three fish on the same lure and then nothing I'll change up lures try something faster and slower maybe downsize. I need to fool with color more this seems to be important with trout. A lot of times the fish don't stop biting they just have moved. When they're active they run a cycle around a pool if it's a small enough creek intercepting them is no problem. We've all been in small creeks when the fish get spooked and shoot past us downstream. I'm sure this is happening on bigger rivers. Catch a few fish, the school gets spooked and now they're behind you. This is why Bob Long and Ken g can work downstream presentation so effectively they keep running into the school as it regroups and heads upstream. I need to work on that technique too.

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On Q#1, I would try something different. Scott's idea of a senko works good especially on missed topwater bites. Something different could be the same type of lure but just a different size or color. I've seen that while fishing jerkbaits. You have their interest but haven't matched the hatch yet to trigger the strikes.

Q#2 I throw right back, If that doesn't work, I throw right back with something different. The fish has identified its location and is active. I almost always have 2 rods with 2 different presentations. You can typically pick up that fish unless it felt the hooks on one of the misses.

Q#3 Make observations on the location that fish came from. If you get a better understand of the where and why that fish hit, you can start to develop a fishing pattern for the day. I'll pound the spot until it stops producing.

Q #4. I will follow up with a different approach probably more finesse. Once I feel a good spot is properly worked over, I move on with a run and gun basis hitting as many high % spots as I have time for.

 

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