How many times have you heard it said by professional sportsmen of all types, “That we won or lost the competition by sticking to our game plan”. And indeed, there are many sound reasons for both making and sticking to a game plan, be it a professional prize fight or how one saves time and gas when mowing his lawn. And often, knowledgeable flexibility is the best insurance when game plans go array. Making a game plan seems easy enough. Once one has all the information needed either through experience and/or solid facts about any certain thing, a person can indeed plot the easiest and fastest course to accomplish the task at hand armed with this particular knowledge. In general, knowing all the pitfalls, reactions and counter reactions too many if not all the variables you will encounter during this endeavor, will make every minute count and help determine the success with his or her game plan.
But there are a few sports, that when sticking to game plans isn’t always the best thing to do. And unlike knowing a fellow opponents strong or weak points in any competition, there are certain sports that include tangibles and variables that can change the rules for every competitor in that competition. And I’m not talking about things mother-nature can throw at you during these changes, even though this can makes things easier or tougher depending on what sport it is.
I’m talking about sports that include in them other living things one must interact with. Certain living entities who’s living essence you must understand, know their habits, haunts and try to intercept, fool and at times catch, to win the prizes at hand. Fishing tournaments fall under this heading and probably underscores best both the advantages and pitfalls of having and sticking to a game plan. Because much too often what we thought was a winning strategy to this particular game plan, is interrupted or spoiled by the fickle moods of a living fish with a brain the size of a pee. So how does one plan strategies and form a good solid game plan for such a competition? And at what point does one abandon their plans and become more flexible and/or refined in their presentations?
“Understanding the playing field”
Probably one of the most important abilities in fishing competitions is to be able to read and understand signs. Not the kind written on boards or metal, but the ones constantly changing and taking place all around you on a daily basis. All living thing are influenced in one way or another by the atmospheric or environmental changes that are taking place around them and often react to these changes in certain predictable ways. Some things more than others simply because of the elements they live in. Learning and understanding these elements is a very big step and an important key to planning any game plan.
Knowing and understanding the feeding habits, preferred prey, comfort zones and sometimes migration routes and seasonal timetables can all be helpful as well. Understand the changing elements and the ones that are a constant in a fish’s life, and your game plans will be a lot stronger. But never allow yourself to become so narrowly fixed on any game plan that you overlook or ignore signs that are telling you it’s time to be flexible and change a few things. Always stay aware and allow yourself to drink in any and all signs that things are about to or have changed, and if possible change or adjust with them.
“Experience and observation”
Few things including books can give you what you need most for a sound game plan than experience and observation. Even though there will be some constants from one body of water to another, don’t let that determine your fishing strategy. I say this because virtually every water system you’ll fish, big or small will be different in one way or another. And all the environmental and ecological signs you know and understand on one system can be and mean something totally different on another. And sometimes all the techniques and lures your successfully use on one will be totally useless on the other because of this. Each system will be unique in one way or another within its own ecosystem, and each living thing in it will interact and react as a whole with each other according to this difference. There will always be some constants and specie type rules that will stay the same, but few game plans stay the same from one body of water to the next, no matter what their outside similarities are. Few other things than (on the water experience) can hone your skills for game plan strategies on different bodies of water.
One of the things I’ve personally noticed in these last few years, isn’t so much how modern equipment has changed the way we all fish, but that understanding how to truly use these new devises can be a major factor in any game plan. And when I say how to truly use them, I simply don’t mean their basic intended functions. I mean how to use these devises to both assists and detail your overall technique and natural presentation of your lures. If and when you establish a working pattern, try to incorporate the easiest way to make full use of all your equipment to assist in duplicating this pattern. If one part of this equation is giving you trouble or needs your constant attention, at some point that struggle alone throws the whole game plan off a bit. And for those of you, who cannot afford all the fancy bells and whistles, there are ways and things you can learn to do with your modest equipment to duplicate what extra money and modern technology has given to others. It’s up to you to understand and become as proficient as you can with what you have at your disposal, if you want to compete or simply be successful.
“The brass ring”
I guess the bottom line in any game plan is, knowing when to hold them and when to fold them. And sometimes second guessing and doing either too quickly, is exactly the wrong thing to do. I know from years of guiding, chartering and fishing myself that that “Gut Feelings” you get is often more than just that. They are feelings that, your sub-conscious has automatically calculated from all your previous experiences and is telling you its time to change, move or re-think your approach. We modern humans use very few of all the senses we were given to survive in primitive times in our every day lives now. Modern times and all the gizmos involved with modern times, has dulled many of our secondary senses. Way to many of us have become naive, see things as black and white and on a 2 dimensional plane. We’re both loosing our abilities to see and understand nature and how its creatures interact with each other in their environment. And constantly being conditioned in this modern world for instant results hasn’t helped either. All these things keep you second guessing about any game plans. Try to keep the faith and the confidence you have about your abilities and many of your game plans will pan out. But if they don’t, be flexible and fall back on what you know and have learned. There’s the brass ring…… grab it. Capt. Dan.. Walleye Express