It pays to pick up what nature is laying down

Paying attention to what is going on around you when fishing can pay dividends. Photo provided by author

We’ve all heard it before and silently wondered if it was just a myth. “I’m going to have to fish slow this afternoon,” said Roger Ledford, as he slid his kayak into the water. “Every cow I saw on the way was lying down,” he explained. His equipment consisted of two spinning rods and a small tackle box containing a smattering of lures. His real arsenal consisted of paying attention to what Mother Nature was telling him.

For some, it seems that modern day fishing revolves around advanced technologies, which Ledford is an anomaly. We see it everywhere in the form of cutting edge electronics like high-tech sonar and GPS. Thanks to map services like Navionics we can call up a particular lake and our GPS will take us to any spot we choose. The dashboard of some boats looks like something out of Star Wars.

I’ll never forget one particular ice fishing trip where I was joined by local outdoor enthusiast and Greentown resident Jolene Rule. “That’s not fair is it?” she asked, after watching the electronic Vexilar show fish move up from the bottom before taking my bait. “Sure it is,” I mentioned. “New technologies make us more efficient at what we do, but the truth is no amount of equipment can make fish bite when they don’t want to,” I laughed.

But with all the new gadgetry are we missing the most simplest of clues given to us by our own environment? We have all, at one time or another, paid attention to what livestock were doing while driving to the lake for a day of fishing. If they are lying down then we assume the bite will be slow. But if these bovines (or any other type of livestock) are up feeding we think fish will be active.

Mother Nature is constantly giving us clues we just have to stop for a minute and pay attention. I know a lot of great anglers who stay cognizant of everything going on around them at all times.

For example, if you arrive at the boat ramp and you hear birds chirping, squirrels barking and ducks quacking as they fly overhead it may be the perfect time to cover water and fish aggressively with a fast moving lure. But if wildlife or livestock were sedentary and silent, opt for slow moving lures.

It pays to constantly be aware of your surroundings even when on the water. Are aquatic birds, like terns and seagulls, floating together in a solid raft or are they flying about diving for food? Are you seeing any type of wildlife, like beavers working on their dams, or raccoons feeding along the bank?

I believe there is some truth in picking up clues to what is going on in our surroundings. It’s a fact, there are times when fish and wildlife are extremely active and times when they are not. No amount of advanced technologies can change this. But we can cash in by increasing our situational awareness.

So maybe it’s not crazy to listen for birds in the morning or paying attention to what farm animals are doing. Sure, this sign may be as old fashioned as they come, but I bet a lot of anglers and hunters have cashed in by staying alert.

In no way should a fishing trip be cancelled just because the animals we see are lying down or the chirping you hear is minimal. We go fishing every chance we can. But paying attention can help give us proper direction in our approach and techniques.

So the next time you embark on a fishing adventure, be observant to what is happening around you and plan accordingly. Mother Nature is constantly giving us clues, we just need to look and listen.

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John Martino
Martino is a well-known outdoor writer throughout Indiana and has served as longtime outdoor columnist for the Kokomo Tribune newspaper. Martino has won numerous awards for both his writing and his service to youth, conservation and the community. He recently retired as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the City of Kokomo and now works as Ivy Tech Executive Director for Facilities for the Kokomo region.

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