Having access to a good place for bass fishing is a key ingredient in maintaining my positive Zen balance. For me, home waters must be located mere minutes away to deserve the appellation. Anything further is just a nearby fishing spot. Home water has to be fished frequently, but not necessarily for a long stretch at a time. That is the twin benefit of a true home water. It has to be extremely close to fish in a heartbeat, when time or tendency dictates.
The Zen balance comes from the ability to access these waters with techniques you may have been meditating on, but to do so in real time. I love my Zen fishing, but I love grabbing a rod and casting in the time it took to write this article.
I’m blessed with several home waters I enjoy throughout the year. For a variety of reasons, one location has become the most significant. It is a long narrow lake of just over 100 acres, and it sits within the confines of an urban park. Its a good-sized body of water for this locale. Although there is a boat launch facility, part of the criteria for ranking as a home water is easy access. With abundant shoreline stretches, my home water is also easily fished on foot, by wading, off of several bridges spanning the lake and from several small piers. In mere minutes, I can be bass fishing at one of many sweet spots on the lake.
As a frequently fished home water, I’ve gotten to know not only how the lake fishes in different sections, but more importantly how it fishes under most all conditions. The beauty of a quick stop at a home water is that you are more likely to try an hour or two under most negative conditions, because of the proximity to home.
Besides the fact that you are getting in some fishing time, you learn things. For example, how to catch bass when the water is high, muddy, too cold, too warm, too wind swept or flooded. You learn because you invest the time under these conditions and you find what works. Fishing your home water in all conditions has practical benefits beyond the hour or so you stand casting along a frozen bit of shoreline. You will eventually learn how to catch fish under these circumstances, and then apply what you know on a different lake under the same conditions.
I love to fish when I travel, and I cannot think of a worse position to be in than to be at a new water body under adverse conditions, and miss an opportunity to fish in a region, state or country you may never have the chance to try again, just because you didn’t invest some time learning a lesson for a rainy day. And what better way to see what color, length and style jig will elicit a strike from murky soup than during a few quick outings under abysmal conditions at your home water?
I also use my home water as an outdoor laboratory for new lures and techniques, perfecting as much as possible my presentations. I have keep a journal of each fishing trip I’ve made for the last 50 years, I have found this type of personal data base is especially useful on my home waters, because of the frequent trips I take there. I am more likely to have used various lure types and color combinations under more varied conditions here than on a lake I only fish two or three times a year.
I have a historical record that lets me know which worm to use on rising water in March, which surface lure to try on a moonless night in July, and what jig to flip in clear water on a sunny October afternoon. And again, once you have the confidence and track record to choose the correct lure on your home water, it can also be extrapolated into what lure you will use on an unfamiliar water under similar conditions.
As I have had to deal with some limiting physical issues in terms of my fishing recently, it was a blessing to have a lake like my home water nearby to fulfill my bassin’ fish wish. If you are only going to feel well enough for a couple of hours recreation, why burn a hunk of it traveling instead of fishing? Save the longer trip for when you are feeling better, and get into some fish while you feel fresh. But, stay a little longer as you start to fade too, because you aren’t going to be beating yourself up on the way home.
My home water provides some solid footing to fish from, and when I was a little challenged or wobbly, this helped keep my line in the water from one of the bridges or small piers. I would have logged far fewer fishing days without the accessibility afforded here, accessibility to nice fish. My home water regularly yields 15- to 18-inch bass, mostly to those who take the time to learn the lake. That is the beauty of a home water, you fish it often enough so that you become one of those anglers who has learned the lake.