Use the best gear, techniques to catch all the fish, not just some of them

The author caught this “stupid” striper off the New Jersey coast a couple years ago. (Contributed photo)
I climbed aboard an aging but well-maintained boat, captained by an aging, not-so-well-maintained old salt, one morning near Sandy Hook, N.Y.
Dripping cigarette ashes on his stained T-shirt as he talked, he asked me if I believed in fluorocarbon line and the “new” Gamakatsu hooks.
I told him those were good hooks, and in my experience, fluorocarbon line made a world of difference some days.
“Ah, you’re like the rest of these modern-day fishermen,” he said. Then he opined, “I’ve been fishing out here for over 40 years and know there are plenty of stupid fish in the sea. I’m not after the smart ones and there are plenty of stupid ones that will bite on regular ol’ bronze hooks tied to regular ol’ fishing line.”
I make it a rule to not get into arguments with captains on their own boats so I just chuckled. After all, I’d had enough experience, in saltwater and fresh, to know fluorocarbon line makes a world of difference some days, and premium, ultra-sharp hooks are better than rusty, dull hooks.
I realize there are plenty of stupid fish in the lake. I see them caught all the time. Goodness, if it weren’t for stupid fish biting my lures, the number of fish I actually catch would drop drastically.
That doesn’t mean I purposely fish for the dummies. In fact, my philosophy is to try to catch the smartest fish in the lake. I want to catch the most persnickety fin-a-vore out there. I want to hook the fish that will only bite a lure trolling exactly 2.45 miles per hour, being worked at exactly 39.3 feet below the surface and set precisely 52.6 feet behind my downrigger weight. I want the fish that will only bite a green and glow lure, not a glow and green one, and then only if it’s being pulled by a coastlock swivel tied to 17-pound test fluorocarbon line.
I know if I can catch that fish with the genius IQ, I have a good shot at catching some of its less-intelligent brethren. Once the fish bites, I don’t care if it’s Einstein or one of the Stooges.
My point is, when fishing, take care of the little things. Use the best tackle, bait, lures and gear you can afford. Use the best techniques you know and try to catch all the fish, not just some of them.

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