Pause For Effect – Luke Fitzpatrick 2018

Fishing is a learning experience, at least that is the way I look at it and I am sure I am not alone. I also find fishing to be a great ‘leveller’, bringing us back down to earth with a harsh lesson or two at exactly the moment you don’t expect it, but importantly, when you need it.

The lesson could stem from a failed knot, because you rushed and didn’t make the effort to re-tie. Or arriving at your secret honey hole after hours of travelling to find you had left home without that one piece of important gear that you need.

So, for the start of 2018, fishing decided to teach me about hypocrisy. Specifically, not to rush and most importantly to ‘Pause for Effect’.

At the end of the 2017 school year, my wife and I received our growing boys report cards. One of which highlighted an apparently common trait amongst young boys. Rushing through work to get it done with little care for the process, instead just wanting to get it done, so they can move on. In an effort, to be a good father I sat down with my boys and explained why it is important not to rush and blah blah blah, you know the rest of the story.

About a month later, after an extended period away from fishing, I had my first real chance to hit the water and wet a line. In my mind I had huge expectations for bringing in 2018. Most of them involved a piscatorial monster ravaging one of my lures, pulling line at a ridiculous rate while my heart rate raced to the sound of my fishing reels drag screaming under strain.

My first hit out for the year was spent throwing surface lures. I visited a few of my usual haunts around the Great Sandy Strait.Time and time again all I could rustle up was that familiar boil of water. When you know a fish is stalking your lure but not quite committed to the strike and then at the last minute they shy away, turning their entire body as they head deeper into the water. It is exciting, it makes your heart race, the visual aspect of surface fishing is addictive, but when they constantly shy away from your lure it is immensely frustrating.

What was I doing wrong? I was using the same tried and tested lures, the fish were there, I could see them, my timing was right, argh, the whole situation was literally doing my head in.

As if sensing my despair, cue the fishing lesson. I had an itch, on my nose and mid retrieve. I paused my popper as I had a good scratch for 4 or 5 seconds and BOOM!! The water around my now stationary popper exploded, my lure disappeared, all I could see was the silver side of a fish. Then he headed deep and to my right, the platypus p8 braid sliced through the water under strain and before I knew it my heart was racing from the sound of my fishing reels drag screaming.

After releasing a healthy sized queenfish, I took a moment to reflect on what had just happened. In all my haste to get onto the water and with my own expectations casting images of giants of the deep laying on my brag mat one after the other. I realised I was doing exactly what I had counselled my sons not to do. I was rushing through the process, and the more the fish boiled up behind my lure the more I was rushing. Instead, I needed to slow down, and concentrate on the process or in this case my retrieve.

You could be popping for giant GT’s or guiding a walk the dog lure in the hope of enticing an Aussie bass bite, regardless it is amazing how many times the fish strike when you pause your lure. I would wager it happens more times than when the lure is moving.

The following day, more aware of my need to not rush my retrieve I decided to hit the flats on the western side of Fraser Island. I was on the hunt for a few flathead tails for dinner. But what I was not expecting, was crystal clean water in which I was about to witness, with striking clarity, the importance of the pause in some retrieve techniques.

Diamond Trevally Release 3

This time I was using lighting weighted soft plastic lures and at the time a single hop retrieve, across some shallow flooding sand banks. I was about half way through my retrieve, I hopped the soft plastic and let it sink to the bottom, the water was so still and clear that I could see my lure. As the lure touched the bottom there was a burst of sand about 5 metres away from my lure and a blurred rush of a flathead as it raced to my lure, struck, inhaled and then turned, heading for deeper water. The time it took for the flathead to burst from his hiding hole to inhale the lure was only about 1 to 2 seconds. If I had hopped my lure immediately, when I had felt or in this case seen it hit the bottom, I may have missed the fish.

During other fishing sessions I have experienced situations where I can see or feel fish biting the lure and when I have applied pressure or struck, the lure simply pops out of their mouth. I have learnt, especially with flathead, that if this occurs to let your lure sit and pause, sometimes for up to 10 seconds. In many cases the fish picks the lure up again and becomes hooked.

So, 2018 has started with a great fishing lesson, a reminder of sorts, to not rush and to concentrate on technique, of which pausing your lure during some retrieves is vitally important. In fact, I am sure it is a lesson which we could apply to many other things in our lives as well.

I am sure my boys are going to give me a sideways glance with a raised eyebrow when I read this article to them, but hey, you are never too old to learn.