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Try to set the rod down this week

Patience paid off for Jeff Martinson on Lake Belle Taine with a silver pike. The species isn't typically large, but is very unique to land and indigenous to the area. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

“What should I write about his week?”

The text message I sent was simple, concise, to three of my long time angling friends.

“Public access Port-a-John etiquette,” was one response.

Though that wasn’t my topic of choice, it did make sense. Don’t throw trash inside or outside, anywhere. Put both lids down afterwards. Turn off the light when you exit. Obviously the last comment is facetious.

The other responses I got were a bit more impressive. “Why do the people in the boat who don’t pay attention catch the most fish?”

Through all of my guide trips I don’t have a percentage or quantifying statistic to justify truth in that statement. But it’s evident at times.

Sometimes a definitive margin separates highly successful anglers from those less successful during an excursion.

“You’ve been catching fish, can we switch spots in the boat?”

One might chuckle at the thought, but there’s some truth to switching seats. It all depends upon the depth of water or structure we’re around. Unfortunately, the exchange of angling positions in the boat usually occurs just as we’re doing a 180-degree turn of the boat and the “lucky angler,” the person who has caught the most fish, remains lucky.

Occasionally the person who is least attentive lands the greatest number of fish because they set the rod down or don’t realize they have a bite until the fish has literally hooked itself. People get antsy to set the hook. Other times they simply wait too long. The formula is basic; wait longer with live bait, don’t wait when a fish bites with artificial bait.

The term “slow” is relative. I throw a baseball slow and could barely get it over home-plate from the pitcher’s mound after two shoulder surgeries. If a major league pitcher threw a 70 mph fastball that would be considered slow.

The same relates to fishing. It’s not about the ability to move the bait fast or slow, it’s about the angler’s patience.

During one trip last week, patience was a necessity. The clients on board experienced several “firsts,” even though the fish involved weren’t trophies. Part of fishing is simply about the experience.

It began with two fish caught on one line. One bluegill hooked on the line, the other tangled in the leader material of the Roach Rig.

Then, a guest pulled in a rock bass. Backwards. Not hooked in the tail, but lassoed by the tail. Follow that up with a perch that came aboard that had not been hooked. The tiny fish was hanging from the tail end of the night crawler, choking on the worm.

We released all of those fish, yet at the end of the trip, as the group was talking about their successes for the day, the “keeper” fish I filleted didn’t earn a story. It was more about the anomalies versus what would be considered normal.

Go slow. Don’t pay attention. Patience is often the key for catching dinner and creates some great stories to remember along the way.