Controlling the Variables

controlling the variables

There’s nothing you can do about the wind. You have no say-so about that afternoon thunderstorm brewing on shore. There’s no chance you’re going to get that fish that refuses to bite on the end of your line. These are some of the “variables” you cannot control and it’s important to recognize them, come to terms with them, then put them behind you and move on. Just be sure to move on to the variables that you can control.

You CAN ensure that preventive maintenance is performed regularly on your boat, trailer, truck and fishing equipment. You CAN organize tackle, rods & reels and lures to maximize your time on the water. You CAN do a lot of things to control the variables that ultimately lead to a successful day of fishing, or a day of wishing.

Ask a seasoned tournament angler about this concept and most will tell you that this is something they take very seriously. Whether you’re a professional angler or a weekend fisherman, it boils down to one thing: making the most out of every minute you have on the water.

Tournament anglers are up against the clock and when they lose, it costs big bucks, so they are keenly aware of how important it is to make sure they control factors that lead to success. Weekend warriors that lose that big fish may not have as much money on the line, but the loss will haunt them nonetheless.


Well maintained gear will last longer saving you time and money
Well maintained gear will last longer saving you time and money.

Weather, for example, can play havoc with your fishing plans. In the summer, I’m heading out to fish as early as possible because I know that afternoon storms might put an end to the day earlier than I’d like. Wind often makes me re-evaluate launch locations, target species and lure selection. Often, you’ve just got to play the weather hand you’re dealt, but play it wisely, this one can kill you.


After every trip, I clean, lube and dry all my reels because I want them to perform next time, and for a long time. Line that is suspect or old is changed so I know that this vital link between me and the fish, is strong. Check rod tips regularly! A small nick in the guide tip will often go undetected until you break off a fish or two. Don’t wait until that happens to look for the reason why…that’s a variable you could’ve controlled, but didn’t.


Pre-rigged leaders stored and organized neatly are easy to access and use on hungry fish when they appear
Pre-rigged leaders stored and organized neatly are easy to access and use on hungry fish when they appear.

As a guide, I know the importance of time management. Clients don’t want to wait on me to build a leader for them while kings or mahi swarm around the boat. I have plenty of them pre-rigged and ready to go. I’m fairly organized so that I spend little time looking for lures or terminal tackle. This is important time management you CAN control.


I’ve experienced situations where I thought all my preparation and planning would ensure lots of fish action, only to get there to find that the fish wouldn’t bite no matter what I did. Have a plan B, C & D! Sometimes that plan may include presenting different offerings to reluctant fish or abandoning the spot completely. In this instance, every situation is unique, but you do have some control.

I’m not a control freak, I’m very laid-back and easy going. I am, however, very competitive when it comes to fishing tournaments; I want to win and nothing else will do. With clients in my boat I want results, nothing else will do. This is my motivation to control variables…what’s yours?