All About Angles

Ethan Dhuyvetter, pictured right, with his college fishing partner Lance Maldonado

Ethan Dhuyvetter, pictured right, with his college fishing partner Lance Maldonado

By Ethan Dhuyvetter,

I recently fished in my very last FLW College Fishing tournament for Kansas State University, which happened to be the National Championship held at Lake Keowee, South Carolina. While College Fishing events are set up in the team format, I realized some valuable information during this event which is also applicable to fishing as a Co-Angler – utilizing the proper angle behind your boater.

When I say angle, I am referring to the way you line up your casts and present your lure. While on the water, this may not always be the first thing we think of in order to catch fish, however this is one of many valuable factors which can help up your catch during competition. The reason being is that you give the bass around you a new look or even first glance at a lure, which might be all it takes in order to trigger a bite. Whether fishing shallow or deep, fast or slow, or even in different seasons, angles should always be considered to help increase your odds behind another fisherman.

Where it works

As stated, working your lures at different angles from your boater can almost always have a positive impact on your day on the water. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the fish are holding on in most cases. For example, if you are fishing offshore and bass are relating to a ledge, hump, or other piece of structure, chances are they are not all in the same exact spot, or even facing the same direction. In fact, firing a cast behind the boat at a 45 degree angle has been a very effective method for many non-boaters over the years.

On the other hand, let’s say you are in a position where you are fishing shallower and targeting cover such as a laydowns, brushpiles, or docks. If you make similar casts to your boater, all you are doing is hoping that a bass which didn’t react to the first bait dropped in might react to the second. Sometimes this works, but wouldn’t it make more sense to throw in a way that the fish hasn’t even seen yet? (Especially if you are throwing similar style lures.)

This brings me back to the College Fishing National Championship; bass were cruising the shallows and setting up to spawn. We had located them on large laydowns as well as docks and were having the majority of our success on a weightless wacky rig. Because this seemed to be the lure that bass were reacting to the best, both my teammate and I were throwing it.

In order for me to get bit behind Lance, my fishing partner, I focused on using the back deck of the boat to my advantage. I made casts behind the boat, skipped the wacky rig under docks at new angles which Lance had not hit, and even cast into deeper water at times. This resulted in several keepers which may have never seen the livewell had I been up on the front deck trying to fish the same bass as Lance. One bass in particular happened to be relating to a large laydown, and we even knew he was there. After fishing for this bass for countless minutes, we finally moved deeper into the pocket, surpassing this fish. As Lance worked new areas, I took this opportunity to make new casts at this keeper bass (casting directly behind the motor), and guess what, I ended up catching it.

When it can be tough

We all know the feeling of making a beautiful cast from the back deck and then not being able to properly present it because our boater keeps moving at a faster-than-we’d-like rate. This is when it can make it difficult to work slower-moving baits at angles directed behind the boat. If your Pro happens to be running the trolling motor on high and working a reaction bait, you won’t always be able to work completely different angles unfortunately. This is when you should continue to focus on presenting a different lure and paying close attention to making casts he may not have already made. Generally, if they are going fast, they are leaving you opportunities.

Other difficult times would be when your Pro is working a sweet spot which bass are relating to or even a spawning bass. This is when you need to realize that just because that might be a proven location doesn’t mean there aren’t others just like it in the area. In fact, this should give you confidence that making casts at different areas have a likelihood of being seen by other groups of bass.

Respect

At the end of the day, fishing different angles not only gives you better odds at catching fish that your boater may have never had the opportunity at, but it is also a more respectable way of fishing as a Co-Angler. Let’s face it, there are a lot of Co-Anglers out there which disrespect their boater’s water and ruin the sport for all of us. The #1 rule as a non-boater is to pay respect to the guys who are running the boat. If you catch a fish throwing parallel or behind the boat, they will never get mad at you. That is how it is supposed to be done, and they will applaud you for catching a bass they missed. The odds won’t ever be in a Co’s favor, but this is one way to increase them and hopefully put a few more bass in the livewell!