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We all dream of catching huge bass all the time, but the reality is it doesn’t happen that way. For whatever reason, we become accustom to catching bass a certain way and then we go somewhere new and struggle. But why do we struggle? I was reminded of that Saturday as I went out with Tiffany Risch to explore a pond that Outdoor Access, a new player in the land management field for landowners, manages. We went with dreams of big bass like we can usually catch.

The weather had been up and down, high on Thursday was in the 60s. Friday in the 50s, and Saturday was supposed to be in the 60s again. But the high at 7 am was 30 degrees and the wind was a true force. We launched the boat and proceeded to the deepest part of the pond at the dam. The depth finder showed some really nice bass were holding along the bottom, but the wind blew us off them before we could even blink. Back on the trolling motor we go, going past them and then dropping an anchor in 17 feet of water. We worked a lipless crankbait along the bottom in every direction, but nothing. We worked deep diving crankbaits along the bottom, spinnerbaits, suspending jerkbaits, a jig n’ pig, soft plastics, everything, but nothing was working. What were we doing wrong?

Deciding to make a move to the bank we went, going back to the lipless, we worked the outside weed line and drop offs, but nothing early in the area we were working. Another move towards the back seemed like a great idea. Tiffany decided to throw out the lipless and troll it as we moved along. Suddenly, the rod tip bends as a fish loaded up. A happy dance in the front of the boat as she reeled in the first bass of the day. It wasn’t huge, but it was a bass. Not what we were looking for but it was a start.

To the back and the shallows, working a 7’ straight tailed worm and a weightless t-rigged strait worm working them around the pads and grass line, but nothing. We worked around the two beaver huts, and still nothing, not even a little one. We would go up and let the wind carry us back down. Not the best way to fish, but it was what we had to work with. Frustration was setting in to say the least. So we decided to move back to the lower part of the lake, working the shoreline as we went. And we still worked our baits out into the deeper water, searching for that bite.

As we neared the dam we decided to move to the shallows off to the far side. Tiffany works the lipless along the drop off at the weed line and lands the second bass of the day. Granted, it was still small, but it was the desired species we were hunting for on this day. We continued to struggle along, fighting the strong wind and finding more small bass, even a nice size crappie. But the more we struggled, the more frustrated we became.
Then it dawned on me, we were struggling, not because we couldn’t find bass, but because we couldn’t find BIG bass. We went there to catch big bass, not to find bass in general. We set our goals high and were failing. We were having a great day of fellowship and laughter even with the struggle. But we were finding fish on new water, we were slowly figuring out what was going on and we would have found those big bass if only.
If only the battery had not just about died fighting the wind. If only daylight was starting to give way to darkness. If only we had just trusted in our abilities and stayed where we had found the bass holding near the bottom in deeper water. If only we had brought the beef jerky that day. If only….if only.

We all face days where we struggle, and the transition from fall to winter can be one of those times. Weather conditions that force us to make adjustments, bass that are tight lipped, and the idea that we can always catch big bass all make for a long day. Its how we deal with those days and what we learn from them that help us grow as people and anglers. If only I had gotten….if only.


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