By Capt. Michael Okruhlik
Ever heard the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?” A few weeks ago fishing on the tides of the quarter moon, I did something we don’t do often enough as anglers. I broke it and it became better!
As a lure designer, I frequently try new things, throw different colors and vary my retrieve every five or 10 cast. I want to fish the same area with different colors and lures as a true test to see what the fish react to best. I often cover the same structure with multiple lures and multiple retrieve styles. While on my kayak, I like to have two rods at my disposal.
On this day, I had the exact same lure and weight, but one was white with a limetreuse tail, and the other was pumpkinseed with a green glitter tail.
The morning started with light winds and clear water. This area was 1 to 3 feet deep with areas of solid grass mixed with sand potholes and a few larger sand flats. As the day progressed, the winds kicked up, and so did the silt. I used the wind to quietly drift into a cove, where I would anchor and fish. Once the area was covered, I would drift about half a cast and anchor again, repeating this process until I covered the entire cove.
I started out catching several reds from 16 to 26 inches. They were hammering the soft plastic swimbait in aggressive fashion. When fishing shallow, the reds wanted a steady fast retrieve keeping the lure just under the surface. I saw many of the strikes and even had a few swim behind the lure with their eyes above the water, see me, and turn away. Not cool!
When I varied my retrieve by slowing it down and pausing, the reds had no interest. Giving equal swim time to both the white and pumpkinseed lures, the pumpkinseed caught the majority of the reds.
As I observed my surroundings, I heard what I felt was a trout eating bait off the surface. Feeling confident trout were in the area, I needed to try something different to entice a bite. After covering the area with the fast-steady retrieve, catching a few more reds, I dramatically changed my retrieve, but kept the same lures and colors. I switched to a fast twitch of the rod tip, aggressively bouncing the lure off bottom. I did not use any swimming motion, just a constant bounding forward with an occasional pause. I started to catch trout where I previously caught a red or came up empty.
Something else worth noting, the trout not only wanted a different retrieve than the reds in the same area, they also preferred the white limetreuse swimbait. This tactic continued to produce through my entire drift. As I switched retrieves and lure colors, I caught different fish.
The takeaway here is don’t get stuck doing the same old thing. Even when it is working, a change could make it better.
Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Controlled Descent Lures and the owner of www.MyCoastOutdoors.com.