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Many outdoorsman are creatures of habit like the quarry they seek. Hunting deer, turkey casting for bass, crappie or other gamefish, they go to the same spots and do the same things. Why? Because it’s worked in the past, it’s comfortable and it doesn’t require a lot of risk or exploration and in some cases it reproduces results. What happens when you are challenged by new water or woods? Uh oh, my playground has changed! I’m outside of my comfort zone. Relax, there’s a cure for your anxiety.

After several seasons on the water and trudging through forest and fields I can assure you new spots do not spell disaster. When fishing and faced with an unfamiliar body of water I immediately start looking for similar circumstances from fishin’ hoes of the past. Maintaining my same mindset, look at the depth, cover and any condition that might produce a few fish and help establish a pattern for repeatable results. Regardless of your outdoor pursuit, take a deep breath, look around and tap into your memory bank and start making applications to the similarities that lay before you. From the perspective of fishin or hunting, safety first. Gazing at the water, is there any visible submerged wood, any aquatic vegetation, boat docks, rock structure or points? Each is type of cover is a potential fish holding habitat regardless of geographic location.

I’ve found the same results, using the same criteria all across North America. Spending more than twenty-five summers guiding in Canada, making the transition to smallmouth and walleye water was a bit of a daunting task. Solution; fish the flow, current, go to the points, irregular shoreline features and offshore structure. All this was done without the aid of electronics. Water color, water temperature, moon phase, wind direction all play a part in determining fish location and feeding mode. Fish are not hard to catch, heir hard to find. Look shallow first, shallow fish are there to spawn (limited time) or to feed. Faced with fishing massive waters? If you find yourself on a 10,000 acre lake, treat it like a 10,000 one acre farm ponds. Everybody has fished a small farm pond. Don’t be intimidated by the size of the water. If you’re casting for bass, arm yourself with two or three rods, a baitcaster or two and a spinning rod and a few tackle boxes (the Plano #3600 are ideal for the Jackson fishing kayaks) containing baits that fit the location. A shallow impoundment, think minnow imitating hard baits in shad patterns, 3/8’s ounce willow/ Colorado and single bladed spinnerbaits, medium diving crankbaits (something that can get you down to 4-10 feet), a few jigs, 3/8’s to ¾’s ounce and accessories to Texas rig soft plastics. Each of these categories of baits allows you to effectively work the water columns, shallow, mid-level and deep. In cold clear water, a few jerkbaits, waters loaded with cover a buzzbait and some popper type lures. Carry a few light and dark color lure selections, a spool of 12 pound test line which is pretty universal in its use, pliers, a Linecutterz ring (also standard with a few Jackson model kayaks) and the standard equipment you use on your normal outings.

Be prepared to do a little “junk” fishing. Rods rigged with different lures and a few casts with each in search mode. Watch for natural signs including shoreline activities, shorebirds looking for minnows, bug hatches, fish feeding form the surface and anything that gives a specific clue as to what the fish are doing and feeding on creating a natural transition to bait choice and retrieve speeds. Be acutely aware of the first fish. What depth and kind of water did it come from, cover type, man-made structures? What bait did it hit? Was there any clue that would lead to a pattern? All these add up to action. Be prepared as in any case for condition changes that might also change the bite, including but not limited to wind direction, cloud cover, rain or anything else which may call for a tactical switch. Experiment, vary your presentations, look for similar conditions and rely on your memory and natural instincts. With any outdoor activity, under tough circumstances including unfamiliar territory reduce variable to their lowest common denominator.

Use the wind to position your kayak into the most desirable locations. Sitting or standing make small paddle adjustments to compensate for current, wind or drift. In short, do the same things that play to your strength and have created success in the past. Vacation, stay-cation or exploring in search of new water and unpressured fish, lean on essentially doing the same things, in the same type of areas just in new spots.