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Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pay cash for everthing and own it outright? Some folks can do that…I can’t,  so I like millions of other Americans, have had to or are renting something. I’ve never been happy about renting anything but out of necessity we do it. It’s not so bad once the rent is paid and the stress of forking over your hard earned money is eased but when the due date rolled around it would find me scraping, juggling and scheming of ways to lessen the burden. In reality we pay rent in many different ways. It’s not just a check to the landlord…if you want to be successful in fishing, there’s rent to be paid. 
This summer, myself and a few buddies had the bass on several lakes dialed in. There was an enormous amount of “rent” paid for the knowledge of a previously unknown summer pattern but the rewards were paid back to us in more bass over five pounds than any of us had ever caught…ever. The pattern started in June and lasted until October. 
Then came November…With the changing weather, lakes go through what is called “turn over”.  This is where a lake’s temperature is constantly changing until the water temperature settles out for winter. During this time of transition the game fish and the bait are scattered and in my case, resulting in feast or famine. The feast was being able to see schooling bass feeding on the surface and the famine was beating the banks and every single piece of offshore structure to death resulting in an occasional fish. I finally got something going but “too little too late” because before I knew it, old man winter was tooting his horn and you guessed it…the rent was due.
With fishing, the rent I’m referring to is time spent trying to find fish and then catch them in hopes of being able to establish a pattern. Once a solid pattern is recognized, the fish will likely be catchable using similar tactics in the same general type water…same depth, same forage and similar cover. 
When the water in the lakes I fish reach the 40’s I know through experience that the bass will forgo areas that you think they would normally be, like standing timber and in turn follow the shad. So, in winter I’m constantly looking for schools of bait, even if it’s in wide open water.  Nine times out of ten, the bass will be close by available bait, getting them to bite can be tricky.
This month the water temperature is around 45°, the shad are in tight schools with bass hugging a 20-25’ bottom in very close proximity. Once I figured that out,  I started catching quality fish. Prior to that I paid rent with quite a number of fishless days or days where I only caught dinks. Do I have it “dialed in”…absolutely not. 
Here are some excellent ways to get ahead of the game and start catching fish.
1. Know the forage. Shad, bream, Bluebacks…know what they do in every season. 
2. Match the hatch.
3. Good electronics are VERY helpful. Use them to pinpoint structure, bait and ultimately…bass.
4. Read what you can find about the region or water that you plan to fish.
5. The more time spent on the water, the more you will learn.
Paying your rent on a lake isn’t as fun as owning it but to consistently catch quality bass you will have to put in more effort on and off the water. Thank goodness that the rent paid on a lake is a lot more fun than writing a check to the landlord. Good luck and thank God for little plastic boats.