Spiritual Thinking and Bass Fishing
We had a great discussion on one of our fishing forums today in regards to tides, and bass fishing on the California Delta. The original poster was inquiring about the day to day changes of the tides, and it's affect on bass here. After several responses, one of the posters comments got me to really thinking about what he said about me and my response. In as much as what he thought of me might have been accurate to him, there was more to the thought process that I felt compelled to explain, when he commented: "Reading the Tide is an art and Cooch is the master at it!" There really is more to it than that, because I'm a firm believer this game we play in chasing the black bass, is really just a huge mental affair, that begins and has an infinite place in our own hearts. I'd like to touch and share my thoughts on both subjects, the tides and our mental approach to bass fishing.Actually I'm not as master of the tides, in that, I don't ever refer to the tide charts, and I don't let it dictate whether I'm running all over the Delta chasing one tide or the other. I never chase the tide here. I git up in the morning, jump in my boat and go fishing. My daily fishing areas are more based on patterns, and those areas that I know, have concentrations of fish. There are two aspects I rely on here, play to the bass' mood, and rely on the understanding of its biological nature. Bass fishing is a mental game, and you've got to put yerself in a spiritual state to understand and figure him out, not understand and figure out his environment. Too many anglers focus on the wrong elements out here. The environment is uncontrollable and constantly changing, it's unpredictable. But a bass' biological state, is constant, he IS predictable.
The first aspect, the one thing that is constant out there, the tidal changes, dictate a bass' position in a given area. They will make minimal adjustments depending on whether the tide is high, low, incoming or outgoing. At times, current movement, as we know with any bass in any body of water, tends to stimulate their feeding tendencies. Yet just because it's not moving one way or the other, or that it's dead flat at high or low, doesn't mean ya can't catch these fish all the time, you can!
It's more a matter of understanding that bass have three typical moods in regards to feeding. The positive feeding mood, where they are fast to strike and crushing our baits the instant they hit the water, or bopping a bait before it hits the bottom. Those are the easy fish, any of us can catch those. Most guys who chase the tide, key on these fish. That's okay to do, fer a certain number of days, until that easy tide swing yer chasing, is reversed next week. Now yer struggling to catch em, cause you've allow the negative thought process that, "I don't have the right tide" to filter into yer brain. You've mentally put yerself at a disadvantage.
The second mood is that neutral feeding mode. This is when a bass is either on his way up to feed or just finished feeding. The last mood is that Negative feeding mode, the bass is suspended, he's transitioning or he's hunkered down in cover, like during a high pressure movement in the weather. These two periods in a bass' daily cycle, are periods that most of us are exposed to all the time. It is the most difficult state for us to catch them in. The key here during these two mood swings, is ya gotta have the understanding of how to catch them, by triggering strikes, hence attacking the bass' natural sense of aggression and curiosity.
These are the fish I prefer to chase. There are far more of these fish in these two tough modes, than aggressive feeders up shallow. There's far more concentrations of these fish during less than ideal "tidal conditions", as thought of by most anglers out here. And not to leave out, you have far more water to cover during ALL tidal phases searching for these fish in these two modes. It's a numbers thing, playing the percentages to where it's in my favor.
Don't git me wrong, I'll focus on making that pitch or cast to where I think that aggressive fish might be, but I'll position myself in a given area, so that on that same cast, I can probe, search and cover areas where I can find the less aggressive fish too.
The second aspect I apply out here is the bass' biological make up. This fish, unlike others that move around a lot and strive in current, a bass' body mass is not designed as such to allow him to be in such conditions all the time. A bass' body mass, does not afford him the opportunity to always be moving up and down the water column, especially our bigger bass here. Those are the fish, I prefer to target all the time. They are really very predictable.
Where this comes in to play for me in regards to the tides, is how they position themselves, and the movements they make from deep to shallow, or in and around current. For a big bass to move around a lot, he has to feed more to sustain the energy levels to do so. Fact is, they don't move around a lot, and they do feed less. So they feed aggressively and in such an optimal fashion that, little energy is spent, to attain the most desirable results from their feeding, to gain the greatest results. This means they are always looking for a big meal. One that they can acquire, and not have to feed again for extended periods, hence burning less energy and optimizing what they have eaten, yet spending as little energy in their efforts to do so.
This is why I prefer and preach to guys to focus on that 6-12 foot zone out on the River. When a big bass is sitting in 6-12 foot of water on a high tide, when that tide drops 3 feet, he's still very comfortable at that depth and still has plenty of water over his head. He becomes easier to target on the low tide, since his environment is exposed. This is a thought process I use year round, especially in areas where no current is present. You still have a rise and fall of the water level, but that bass is not having to rely on some specific piece of cover or structure, to keep him out of the current flow to where he has to sustain his position and burn energy.
Areas where current is highly present, that big bass is typically going to be looking for that sweet spot where there is an eddy to comfortably relax and sit in. Whether it be a point, Tulle island or a dock, he will make a minor adjustment in his position, to find that optimal spot where he can be real lazy and wait his turn. The current produced during the tidal swings, actually has a negative effect on a big bass. It's all about the laws of gravity and their biological make up. More surface mass on a big bass's body, placed in the current flow, creates an undesirable amount of resistance for that big fish. It forces him to work harder to be lazy. And that big bass prefers to be lazy, rather than over work himself. Why else would we think he/she had the ability, ta git so big and fat? If they were running up and down and all around in the current all day, they'd be long and skinny like a Spotted bass, Catfish, Trout or Striper. Largemouth bass love their obesity!
Sometimes I git the biggest chuckle sitting here reading all the dock talk from a wide array of anglers on this website, and around the neighborhood. They just love to think and listen to what the majority of the anglers are telling them, this is typical human nature. What we fail to realize, is it's us against the fish, and it's the fish we should be listening to. A bass, lives for the moment. He doesn't recall yesterday, last month or last year. Everything he does is instinctual. We as anglers need to become spiritually close and think like the fish, which there ain't a whole lot of thinkin here going on really. Yet most of us will all listen to our fellow bass fishin buddies, and git way too much information that clouds our thought processes. You now prefer to be spiritual to human thoughts that in reality, take us out of a bass' world.
I love Rick Clunn, Dave Gliebe intrigues me, Dr. Wayne Dyer made me a believer many years ago. These guys all git it! There is a Spiritual Solution to every problem. I'm not necessarily talking about relying on a higher power such as whatever faith we each might relate to. The spirituality that I refer to is that which resides in our own hearts. That's where our spiritual strengths reside, not in our brains. Next time yer in a roomful of people, just ask em all to point to themselves. I can assure you, not one person will point to their head and brain, but their chest and heart! Problems are only thought processes created within our own minds. Problems are spawned from our egos, which we all have as humans. We allow our ego, to separate itself from our inner self. Solutions come from our hearts. You become one with the creator spiritually, in this case the bass, leave yer ego behind, and you will find better solutions in yer efforts to catch them! It's called instincts.
Bass fishing is such a mental game, and I love every moment of it! I used ta think I was okay cause my cup was half full, but I've come ta believe, it runeth over when I'm bass fishing! Build and trust yer own instincts!
I'm Andy COOCH Cuccia........ Keep a Tight Line!