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A Minute to Learn...

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

How is poker like fishing?  Mike Sexton quotes
Mike Sexton, for me the voice of poker. Image courtesy of Card Chat.

A minute to learn, a lifetime to master. If you are of my vintage (early, 70’s, banner years) and watched a lot of poker I am sure you can hear Mike Sexton delivering this line during any of the World Poker Tour telecasts. What does this have to do with a blog post about fishing? Well in my mind you can easily use the same expression when describing fishing.

Think about it. I learned to fish as a little kid and here I am many years later still making mistakes, still learning and certainly I am no where close to mastering fishing. Like poker, there are so many different types of fishing styles, species to fish for that truly mastering the sport seems impossible. On a recent outing, the concept of always learning was really driven home. My daughter and I were invited to spend the weekend at a family cottage in Haliburton, Ontario. My brother has been using his kayak a lot this year so he told me to throw mine in and bring it along. Sold.

Late in the afternoon he and I headed out for a few hours before dinner. We decided to target smallies (although we wouldn’t have turned our nose at a nice bucket or trout) and made our way to a very prominent main lake point. I decided to start with a Ned Rig and my brother was using a Texas rigged craw. Pretty quickly it was apparent that the dink bass (and rock bass) were loving the Ned. After a bunch of 6 to 8-inch smallies I decided to paddle to a shoreline that had always intrigued me. A mix of rocks, deep cabbage with wood and the odd giant boulder thrown in it looked good the last time I was here in late fall.

The Ned Rig. Image courtesy of Bassmaster

It was a pretty windy day so I stopped paddling in 16 feet of water drifted towards shore and fired casts in all directions. Like our previous spot it wasn’t long before a I was hooking up with an assortment of little bass, rockies and even a perch. As I floated into 11 feet of water, I fired a parallel cast and tied into something with shoulders. As I set the hook it was a mad race to get my line tight before this bass broke the surface. Just as I got set a nice small mouth broke the surface and much to my chagrin, he went two feet to the left and my lure went two feet to the right. Damn, but at least I have found some size I thought. About 5 minutes later I hooked into another beauty and it was almost a carbon copy of the first one. Fish leaps, man cries. I would love to tell you that I figured it out that day but honestly, I had the same thing happen again and so did my brother (yeah, he switched to the Ned quick)

Notice the lack of fish in this picture! Kept waiting for the bigger ones!

On the drive home I pondered what had gone wrong. Losing that many fish was stinging. When I woke up the next morning, I decided to spend some time on google “Ned rig hook set” Ned rig mistakes” Turns out my technique was wrong. After losing that first fish I was really, really setting the hook. With the small, light wire jigs there is a good chance I was straightening the hook or in some cases pulling the bait to hard, to early, right out of the fish’s mouth.

Like they say, “ A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.

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