What to Look for in a Fishing Companion and Why


The Person You Take Fishing Can Make or Break the Trip

I’ve learned a lot about fishing over the years. I’ve had incredibly good days and some really tough ones. I’ve learned some lessons that have taught me the importance of selecting the persons I go with, whether I take them or they take me.

Whether on a river or a lake, your boat companion can make or break your experience. This article is about who you choose to fish with and why. I have one primary principle I hold to: no negativity--and there's a reason.

Whether on a river or a lake, your boat companion can make or break your experience. This article is about who you choose to fish with and why. I have one primary principle I hold to: no negativity–and there’s a reason.

The Reason is Simple

That companion can make the day memorable or terrible depending on the type of attitude they bring to the boat.

It’s not just the degree of my enjoyment that’s at stake in the choice. I believe it affects whether we catch fish or not. Positive attitudes win, even with inexperienced fishers. Negative attitudes filled with complaining, doubting, and blaming seldom produce good fishing. Even if in the latter case, we are lucky to catch fish, I find I go home regretting the loss of valuable time when I’ve been around negativity too long.

Good Company, Good Memories

I’ve spent the entire day in a boat with a complainer and I’ve spent two days in a boat with a gossip. But I spend a month in a boat with someone who looks at fishing with pleasure and accepts the challenge no matter the conditions, no matter the weather, no matter the catch. And I’ll choose to remember and fish again with the one who adds to my pleasure.

Encouragement and Fun Contribute to Success

If you encourage a boy or girl and praise them moderately when they succeed, they will take the challenge of fishing with enthusiasm and in time become greater fishers. This is true with children of every age. If you take a fully grown man or woman fishing for the first time in this person’s life, they are a child on the water. They have to start new and there’s no way around that. Encourage them and give them moderate praise when they succeed and you’ll not only have a friend for life, but you’ll see the reward in their expression of life as they begin to believe they too can succeed at fishing.

The Proof’s in the Picture

How to Capture the Exact Moment in Photography

One of the strongest reasons we fish is to show others what we caught. The advent of video and digital cameras and their subsequent migration into cellphone technology has made picture taking a part of everybody’s trip to the lake. Sites like Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us the place to show what we caught.

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures being photographed by Ben Fiest

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures displays a fine largemouth bass taken from the edge of cattails on MacArthur Reservoir north of Sandpoint, Idaho where I live. His success is recorded by fishing buff, Ben Fiest of Sandpoint, and yours truly (for the sake of illustration).

Four Basic Types of Photos

The mug shot is when someone holds their catch up in front of the camera and that’s about all we see with a smiling fisherman in the background. Sometimes that’s worthy, especially with an exceptional fish; but more often it’s quite boring to look at. You won’t receive many comments from a mug shot.

Another type of photo common in the outdoors is the standard scenery or landscape photo. Some of those are absolutely gorgeous; but in my younger days of photography when I had to study in order to compete, I discovered that I sold more scenics when they showed human involvement and almost guaranteed when the human in the shot was either looking into the scene or doing something in it. Why is this? Because when there is someone else in the picture and they are anonymous or representative (not hogging the viewer’s attention), then the person looking at the photograph has reason to imagine themselves playing or standing in the same scene.

The action shot is usually best when the sport or activity is caught at the pinnacle of involvement. If you don’t have high speed digital settings on your camera (and cell phones don’t), you have to train yourself to see the pinnacle moment coming before it happens.

Combine All Three in Illustrating the Story

It took many years of shooting and analyzing before I learned to combine all three when I could. In the photo above, I anticipated the moment when outdoorsman, Ben Fiest lifted his cell phone and Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures held up his catch, lure dangling. Rick sells these fantastic plastic swim baits so he’s always looking for photographs that show proof. Ben, on the other hand, who works in construction just wanted to record the memory. I was there, not only to fish and write about it, but to illustrate my blog. So here was the perfect opportunity.

I saw it coming. I barked no orders. Just grabbed my camera from its case, turned it on and took a rapid succession of photos as Ben and Rick got into the action. The one you see here was my illustration for this article. That’s MacArthur Reservoir in the backdrop, June of this year. The photo is a mug shot, a scenic, an action shot and an illustration all in one.

Here’s a different kind of illustration, one I took this spring specifically for Idaho First Realty, owned by long-time friend and broker Ed Ostrom. That’s my famous Bijou, the registered long-haired chihuahua, an unpaid model posing as I captured the southern shore of Sandpoint, Pend Oreille River, our infamous Long Bridge and the Cabinet Mountains in the back drop–all in one to give Idaho First Realty’s website a unique and truthfully illustrated banner.

Last, I want you to look another kind of story illustration that can provide memories for you on your trip. I took it when I had no fish to photograph and little to write about accept the topic: what you do when you’re not catching fish.

Get the picture?

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Tough Bass Made Easy

When weather and water conditions seem less favorable, you go on the hunt.

Like a couple of Blue Herons, two bass fishers await their opportunity by casting through the dawn for small mouth bass feeding on crayfish.

Do this and you may discover some surprising things. Bass are feeding in that predawn light, especially the bigger ones. It’s an excellent time to be up and on the water because predator fish are taking every opportunity to find their days meal. The crawdads, a night-time creature, are still out on the crawl and minnows are doing their best to stay alive.

It may stretch your waking time, but if you want to tie into a big bass, this is one of the magic hours.

~Dwayne Parsons, Twitter @IFishWrite

Strike Motive–Fish With an Attitude

Strike Motive is not always Hunger

Fish strike lures or flies for a number of different reasons, not always related to hunger. Sometimes it’s the chase and catch motive, like big rainbows in open water. Sometimes its the swim to beat the competition, like a trout frenzy when you drop a tantalizing bait into a stream pool holding a number of hungry trout, or throw fish meal into a farm pond. Sometimes it’s a protection mechanism at work in a spawner on its redd, like this spunky Pumpkin Seed that hit a small crankbait cast into shallow water for bass.

Pumpkin Seed caught during spawn

This North Idaho Pumpkin Seed (Sun Fish) struck a lure much bigger than it's mouth.

Strike motive can even be sparked by a thunder storm or the change in air pressure as it comes in over a body of water. I once experience a surprising trout feed when I was caught by a November squall in a row boat on the wrong end of the lake I was fishing.

The storm came over the ridge in a hurry and realizing I had no time to return to the launch on the other end, I hunkered down in a rain jacket in the shallows of a grass bed. Until then I hadn’t had so much as a hit, fishing for an hour at least. But as I contemplated enjoying my misery, looking at the rain pelting the water, I saw the dorsal fin of a fair-size trout break the surface in front of my eyes. I was fly fishing. So I quickly changed over to a Pheasant Tail beaded nymph pattern and cast into the open water near the grass. In seconds I hooked and landed a 13″ cutthroat trout.

I was delighted of course and during the entire squall I caught 10 more averaging about 12″, normal for that lake and lost one a little larger–of course.

As soon as the squall passed over and the brisk gusting wind stopped, I was back to a fishless game as if that lake had never held a trout or anything with fins. What was the strike motive? What brought on that feeding frenzy. I’ve often wondered if I’m right. I think it was the fact that the squall and the resulting wave action on the surface kept the fish hawks from seeing these trout in the shallows where the nymphs were lifting to the surface during their hatch.

If anybody out there cares to tell me otherwise. I’ll consider your advice. But I thought that might be a valid explanation. That particular strike motive might be tagged: Uncover.

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite


What’s the best bass lure on the market?

As hot summer sun warms the bays, not all smallmouth bass have gone to deep water

This smallmouth came savagely to Tony Gunderson's sunfish spinner bait cast along reeds in shallow water on a late afternoon in June.

The dichotomous answer is enough to make one chuckle. The simple part is, “whatever works!” But that’s about as good an answer as “do the right thing!” to someone who really wants to know.

The truth of the answer is that there is no best lure. It’s the fisherman’s knowledge of bass, the species, their habitat and habits that distinguish who catches the most. It’s the angler’s understanding that brings some more big fish than others catch.

The “best” way to acquire that knowledge is by fishing with fishermen who are better than you. Watch what they do; ask questions and imitate their techniques. Then, the bass you catch will teach you what works and what does not.

Observe the nature of the environment you’re fishing, measure the water temperature, note the wind–its direction and speed. You don’t have to write these things down; I’m just suggesting that you note them because they are considerations in the factors that determine where the bass, large mouth or small mouth, are located on a given day, and why they may or may not strike.

There’s one proverbial truth that never changes. “You can’t catch fish if you don’t cast.” Here’s a second truth worth considering if you have time, “You can’t cast successfully if you’re not on the water.”

So if you must go through the failures and mistakes in order to attain the knowledge you desire, speed up the process by fishing with anglers who know what they’re doing–as often as you can.

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite


The Greatest Factor Involved in Consistently Successful Fishing

Believe Like a Child Believes

As we drove up to the Point of rock, this boy said, “I’m going to catch the biggest fish and the most, ’cause I always do.” Four of us went about it for an hour or so and sure enough, this kid was right!

Believing you can is more than half the battle in fishing success.

Not only did he hook and land the largest of the bass caught that night, he fought it extremely well, keeping himself calm, not giving slack as the fish swam hard, pulling line on a drag set just right. It took a minute or two to bring the bass in where his Father could net it.

Look at the beam on this young man’s face. Who can deny his excitement. The great thing was that even his brother, who would have liked catching that fish himself, said something like, “Man, it’s great when someone catches a fish THAT big.”

We were all excited and the mood went home with him that night to be shared by his entire family. I thought about it and realized how important it is that fishermen believe they are going to catch fish. Al Lindner said the same thing once, I believe it was Al, that those who believe they are going to actually catch more fish than those who cast with apprehension, skepticism or doubt.

Can there be any doubt about that? Look again at the beam on this boy’s face and tell me you don’t believe.

# Dwayne Parsons, Twitter @IFishWrite

How to locate trout in a discolored river

This bright, fat rainbow took a Wooly Bugger where receding heavily colored flood waters on the Clark Fork River were met by a clear, highly oxygenated tributary.

Until the Waters Clear

We’re in mid-July, 2011. It’s a year when most of the larger bodied rivers are still flowing chocolate brown with sediment thick in the flow. Many people travel some distance before discovering the waters they came to fish are unreasonable.

So what do you do? Where do you fish? How do you find trout in water like that? I had this challenge coming back from a long drive to Salmon, Idaho via Hamilton, Montana. The Salmon River looked just like the Clark Fork, still high to the bank, running the color of a morning latte. The Bitterroot was clearing and looked fishable but I didn’t have time for a float and most of its banks are on private land.

So I watched for a particular kind of water situation on the Clark Fork as I drove through the mountains toward Coeur d’Alene. I won’t name the inlet tributary (sorry, but over pressure isn’t good), but I can tell you that watching the lay of the land I reasoned where a clear running freestone stream might feed its oxygen rich cold water into the discolored Clark Fork.

I didn’t have much time. But I stashed half an hour allowance to check my theory. I parked my SUV at a point where the walk down across public land to the conjunction of waters wouldn’t take too long and followed the fast flowing freestone to its destiny. I stood on a shallow gravel bar and cast a 2-inch weighted Wooly Bugger on a float-tip 5 weight line. I took this rainbow on the second cast and had two others of similar size on the gravel bar by the end of my allotted time.

Until the waters clear, you’ll have to be innovative. The tributary was a little too strong; but where these streams met was fishable and good trout were there.

~Dwayne Parsons    www.twitter.com/#!/ifishwrite