Be a 10 Percenter

by Robert Johansen, February 22, 2000

The old adage that ten percent of the fishermen catch ninety percent of
the fish may not be totally accurate, but it is probably more true than most
of the other 90 percent would like to admit.
Many of the ninety percent of the anglers, that catch only ten percent of
the fish, are those casual fishermen that only dust off their one spinning
rod once a year and hit the lakes on the traditional opening day for the
hatchery raised, planted rainbow trout. Some feel quite successful if they
manage to catch three or four of the eight or nine inch trout.
This not meant to "be-little" those anglers. Most fish for the spring
carnival atmosphere and just to be out on the water relaxing. Some are even
introducing a son, daughter or grandchild to the great American piscatorial
pastime. Other anglers that catch only a few fish are those that just have
too many hobbies to spend a lot of time learning and developing the skills to
catch fish on a consistent basis. Again, not a put-down -- In fact, they may
be even better rounded individuals than some of the highly successful ten
The ten percent that catch the "supposedly" ninety percent of the fish
are a dedicated lot. They usually spend a lot of time and money on their
favorite sport. They not only read a lot of "how to," "where to," when to"
information, but also spend a lot of time on the water. Reading fishing
information and sharing information with other knowledgeable anglers is
invaluable to success -- but actual practice is the key.
As an example, if you like bass fishing, spend a lot of time on the lakes
and try lots of different lures and techniques. You will soon have lures
that you have a lot of faith and trust in. You will discover that different
lures work best in certain water conditions. In murky or stained water, bass
hunt largely by sound and smell, and in clear water, they depend a lot on
sight hunting. You will learn that the fish spend most of their time in
different sections of a lake during different times of the year -- and the
time of day that will draw the most strikes will differ with the seasons.
Successful steelheaders must spend a lot of time on the rivers to keep in
tune with their changes, water levels, water clarity and fish runs. I have
talked with a select few steelheaders that consistently catch and release
60-70 summer steelies from a NW Washington River each summer. These anglers
are dedicated and keep a fishing log on the time of day, location on the
river and the lure or bait they catch each fish on. They are also on the
river before daylight.
Most successful anglers will have more and better fishing gear and will
be more proficient with it's use. They can cast accurately all day -- and
seldom, it ever, get a backlash. They check their hooks often for sharpness
and hone they if they need it. They use quality lines and check them often
for nicks or abrasions to insure that when they hook "the big one" the line
doesn't break.
It's the same story with salmon anglers, walleye fishermen and others.
The successful ten percent that catch ninety percent of the fish probably
also spend 90% more time on the water. Once you've reached a certain
confidence level, you will actually expect a strike on every cast.
Regardless of whether you are a "90 PERCENTER" or a "10 PERCENTER," or
some where in-between, fishing is an enjoyable pastime for a lot of people.
Catching a lot of fish is not important to every angler -- and keeping a lot
of fish is not important to most successful fishermen. As for myself, I don't
mind getting "skunked" now and then -- but I don't think I'd like for a
steady diet.

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