Never Stop Learning By Damian Spradlin


Never Stop Learning

by Damian Spradlin

I’ve always said that the day I stop learning is the day I’ll stop fishing. Fish always have a way of teaching you a little humility just when you think you have them figured out and at the most inopportune time. This is a lesson I learned on the New River this weekend along with a few other tidbits that will help me in the future.

I woke up Saturday morning to pouring rain and a cold front moving through so I knew it would be a tough day on the river. The water was running higher than normal with about 1 foot of visibility and the section that I decided to fish was less familiar looking once daylight set in than I had hoped. My game plan was to throw big spinnerbaits, jigs, and tubes to the edge of eddies formed below a river wide ledge. Well this plan failed for me. Why it failed only the fish and god know, but it failed miserably. It could be that I lost my patience and moved around trying different spots too quickly. It could have been my reluctance to tie on a different color or different bait more quickly due to stubbornness. I can say that the section of river I fished was not the issue since the person that won this particular tournament was within 500 yards of me all day.

So what did I learn after sitting in my kayak for 8 hours in the cold and pouring rain with only 2 tiny smallmouth to show for it? I learned that being wet and cold sucks, especially if you aren’t catching fish, and I figured out what the fish didn’t want to eat. After the tournament though, when I finally got to dry out and warm up, I did get a few helpful bits of info while sitting around and chatting. It seems that my original plan had some merit in that the smallies were choking a spinnerbait pretty consistently and jigs were also on the menu. What I didn’t foresee was that my color of choice and the spots I targeted were completely off base. In my aforesaid stubbornness I had assumed that even though the water was still a bit higher than normal with falling water levels the fish would be well off the banks and that was wrong. My choice of color was white and chartreuse, and that color did produce for some folks but darker more natural colors seemed to be ticket on this overcast day. I also assumed that with the cold front moving in and water temperature in the upper 50s presentations needed to be slowed down, this also led me to believe crankbaits would be off the menu but again I was mistaken. At the conclusion of my lesson I felt that I had a better grasp of how to approach the river if ever I have to deal with similar conditions in the future, and learning from my mistakes will definitely stick with me.

The competitor in me hates that I couldn’t put it together and have a stronger showing but the lessons I learned are more important in the grand scheme of life and fishing than winning any single event. Every day on the water I hope to learn 1 new thing and after this weekend I think I filled my quota for the next year.

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