Column: The little things can often pay dividends

Column by Larry LaGrange

A few weeks ago I had the chance to play golf and fish on the same day, one of my retirement dreams.

An old friend who resides out of town and who loves golf was coming for the day. I decided Country Oaks Golf Course and West Boggs Lake would make for a nice combo, wrapping up with a bountiful meal with our wives at Stoll’s right on the water. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Something that struck me later was that golf and fishing are similar in that to be successful, one must pay attention to the details.

It was my first time at Country Oaks. According to the pro shop guy, this course rates as one of the top 25 toughest in Indiana. Having played little around the state, I’d take his word for it after my round. It’s a tough layout even when you play from the senior tees. The course is a monster from the back tees.

On the front nine, I kept struggling with my putts as did my partner. Finally I discovered that comfort zone when you stand over your ball, eye the line, and feel confident that it’s going in or at least it will be very close. All it took was a slight adjustment to my stance, and the ball started dropping more often.

On my drives, all it took to get more roll distance was a slight upward angling of my shoulders, like the guy in Golf magazine said to do. I gained maybe ten yards. Every little bit helps.

I shot a better score on the back nine than I did on the front, which shocked me. I thought that after four hours of golf I’d wilt in the afternoon sun but instead I found a rhythm and employed those small changes and the result was a pleasant surprise.

Hitting the lake at about four o’clock, we were after the big bluegill that I’d written about in an earlier column. I knew a place where we could be in the shade and still catch something, I hoped.

We arrived at the spot and I rigged up and began catching fish, although not the size I had seen in the spring. Still, there was action. My friend rigged up and cast out in the same area and sat and watched. I caught a bluegill. He continued to sit and watch his bobber. I caught another, and another, and another. Most were non-keepers but it still was fun.

Now, here’s the dilemma. Do I tell him what to do to correct the problem or just let it go? He wasn’t asking me for advice. He was just watching his large bobber sit motionless, or so he thought.

Earlier on the golf course I had made a suggestion about his putting that seemed to help. That was with his permission. Now, I wasn’t sure that I should give advice when none was asked for.

Finally, I couldn’t stand my success and his lack of it any longer. I offered to look at his rig and see what the problem was. He complied, somewhat reluctantly. He had caught bluegill before with this same setup and he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t catching them now.

One difference in our fishing styles was that he cast his bait out to one spot and waited. I would cast, wait a few seconds, pull the rig very slowly about a foot, wait a few seconds and repeat. Fish tend to move in and out of an area, unless it’s spawning time. Covering more water just makes sense,and the moving bait gets more attention.

Another issue was his waiting until he saw the bobber go completely under before he would react. Often these bluegill would only slide my bobber one way or the other a few inches, alerting me to set the hook. Very few of them took it all the way under, even the larger ones. Bluegill fishing is relaxing, yes, but one must be very alert to what the bobber is doing in order to catch more fish.

Next time I’ll get into some more techniques for bluegill that can help you get a few more bites. It’s fall, and fish are biting again. The weather is usually pleasant, and there’s less competition. And when the colors come out, it’s really special.

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