The fishing wasn’t bad. In a little over an hour I had iced a pair of keeper summer flounder and added a trio of black sea bass for good measure. Still, recent reports had it that bigger flatties – true doormats to 10 pounds - were on patrol and my heart was set on catching something impressive.
As I mulled the possibilities of changing rigs, trying different baits or staying the course, a 1980’s tune from The Clash began rattling around inside my head: Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? Within minutes it had become a call to action and I cranked up the engine. An hour later, I had an 8-pound doormat flopping in the cooler.
Making a move surly worked out for me that day, but whether to leave a decent bite in search of better quality or quantity catches is a decision anglers face on a routine basis. For those participating in fishing tournaments or looking to catch dinner, the general rule has long advised it unwise to leave fish in search of bigger scores from either a quality or quantity standpoint. I’ve never held that bit of wisdom close to the heart, though. Instead, if I’m feeling antsy, I take a quick time out and weigh the options.
There are a surprising number of considerations to ponder in such instances. Are the odds actually good that you’ll have better luck after a run to a new spot or are you likely to just find more of the same? Will moving require a change of tactics or gear from casting to bottom-fishing, fly-fishing to spin-fishing, or the use of conventional rods and reels? Will it call for different baits, lures, rigs and weights? If so, are you prepared to make those changes on the fly?
Often the deciding factor for me boils down to wind and tide. If I suspect a change of venue will put either of those factors more in my favor, I’m making the run. In pursuit of some species, ducking out of the wind for more precise anchoring or a slower drift can be a real advantage. In terms of tide, slack water is generally least productive so looking for a place with a little more current might be a good idea. In warmer months, I’ll often search for incoming water if fishing in bays, sounds or estuaries as a fresh influx from the ocean can run several degrees cooler than outgoing water that has had a chance to bake over shallow back bay flats. For colder months, seeking out the warmer water of the ebb often makes more sense.
To be sure, any move that steers you away from a decent bite is a gamble and not all bets are winners. Still, if you have a serious itch to take a run that’s probably instinct at work – and trusting your instincts is one fishing cliché that generally shouldn’t be ignored.Written by: Tom Schlichter