Considering the current state of the economy and the fact that many individuals are hesitant to change, the following story brings to mind how an individual can go with the flow and make things a bit more tolerable. I'm not making light of things as they presently exist, and I still refrain from the mention of politics in a fishing column. However, there are times when a bit of levity can make things just a bit easier. This may be one of those times. I heard this story at a social gathering of old storytellers (hunters and fishermen) during New Year's Eve.
Long ago there lived a great seaman named Captain Bravo, known well among his peers as a manly man who showed no fear in a challenge nor in facing his enemies.
One day while sailing, the lookout in the crow's nest hailed, "Ship off the starboard bow." It was a pirate ship and the crew became frantic. Captain Bravo, still cool and reserved, instructed the cabin boy to bring him his red shirt. After donning the shirt, our brave captain led his men to victory. The plunder of the pirate ship were many and vast, and each mate on board shared in the treasure. You see, the captain was also very generous.
A few days later, again a hail from the crow's nest, but this time two pirate ships were spotted. The captain remained calm and, as casual as always, asked for his red shirt. And once more the pirates met their fate under the keen seamanship and courage of the captain.
Reveling in their good fortune, the men spent time on deck telling stories of conquest and their good fortune in having such a brave and generous captain. At that time, the cabin boy asked the captain why he always called for his red shirt before a battle. Calmly, the captain replied: "If I am wounded, the red shirt will not show blood and alarm the men. They will continue fighting until victory is ours." His men marveled at the brilliant tactic from this true man's man, their captain.
At dawn, once more a hail from the lookout, but the numbers had changed. There were not one or two pirate ships, but a total of six. These new pirates had more cannons and numerous sails, much greater than that of our brave captain's vessel. All the seamen turned to the captain, who would surely call for his red shirt and lead them to another victory. The captain bellowed to the cabin boy, "Rush, lad, and bring me my brown pants."
A few columns back, I mentioned the importance of fishing by the barometer. Some confusion followed, as I was answering e-mails trying to clarify in less complicated terms. I offer more now, for those still following the dogs out of the woods.
A high reading indicates clear skies, and fish seem to slow, so you should slow down your presentation of lures and use a bit of flash around cover and tapered ledges.
A rising barometer indicates the weather will be changing, usually improving. At this time, fish tend to become more active, and you should, too. Choose lures that create more action, such as propellers or lively skirts and stay at or near mid depths and over drops.
A stable reading means experimentation. Fish have moved into a mode of interest; not hungry, yet always wary of an easy meal. This is the time to experiment with different lures, retrieve speeds and colors.
On a falling barometer, fish are more active close to the surface, and you should employ topwater lures, surface runners and shallow crankbaits. Use a faster retrieve and keep the lure moving.
As the mercury drops, fish will seek more open waters along the flats and shallow runs. Predatory gamefish will become more aggressive. This is the time for shallow-water spinners or crankbaits that resemble fleeing baitfish.
A low barometer reading is a sure sign of heavy cloud formations, rain and possible storm conditions. The fishing will slow down and possibly stop altogether. Conditions may remain so for a long period of time, or at least until the barometer begins to rise again. Most fish will be congregated at deeper depths. On the reverse, a long period of poor fishing is usually followed by a like period of great fishing. Take advantage whenever you can during these times.
To summarize: When the pressure is high, fish can be found in deeper waters. When the pressure is low, more fish are found in shallower waters.
However, barometric pressure is slight, and larger creatures such as fish do not necessarily feel the effect. Small organisms, on the other hand, such as plankton, are greatly affected by barometric pressure and these changes. At high barometric pressure, these small organisms are forced to deeper waters. This change drives the fish that feed on the organisms to follow. On the flip side, when the pressure drops, these same organisms will rise closer to the surface, and again, the fish will follow. Your best bet in fishing a changing barometer is during the first few hours after a change in pressure. The organisms are in a transition state and gamefish follow the trend, making it easier for them to feed.
For those of you who follow the barometer, you may notice a change in the water clarity, as well. Right after a pressure drop, the waters become a bit murky or stained. This is largely due to the organisms rising from the deeper depths and causing the water to become cloudy. I have found this to be an excellent time to fish. This is usually the time of the major feeding period for gamefish.
Keep in mind this is only a tool to aid you in your fishing prowess. Barometric pressure is one factor among many that may influence your outcome. Among many others are tides, winds, pH levels, salinity levels, boating and fishing pressure in the area, as well as water temperature and solunar conditions.
Use the barometer as an aid in your fishing, and your chances of improving the take home may increase drastically. Or you can continue with chance, on the possibility that you might luck out and find a few.