Thinking Inside the Box
Is There a Mental Aspect Involved in Great Lakes Fishing?

 Fish box from Ludington, MI's "Why Knot" Skippered by Capt. Chris  S.

Nowadays the oft term of "thinking outside the box" is used to describing creative thought processes.  Let's turn that around to "thinking inside the box " that applies to our Great Lakes Salmon and Trout Fishery.  Putting any good box together requires the right call.  The definition of luck when preparation combines with opportunity. 

Formulating a sound confident game plan requires thought and a little luck.
My charter and river guiding days of 1983 thru 2003 when I used to fish 200 plus days a season taught me every box is built one fish at a time.

Trust your basic instincts, cuz no amount of info, advice, or expensive electronics catches fish. You do that job all by yourself!


12" Reel Flashers

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5/24/04 Ludington, M1

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7/30/04 Ludington

8.13.04_Last_Seminar_002.jpg (105740 bytes)
8/13/04 Manistee

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8/31/04 Manistee

Mag Meat Heads
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5/28/05 Ludington

6.3.05_Manistee_Flashers_Meat_Heads_002.jpg (169816 bytes)
6/3/05 Manistee

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7/24/05 Kewaunee, WI

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8/14/05 Frankfort, MI

Your Most Deadly Secret Weapon

Little attention is given to the most deadly fish catching tool you have on your boat, your mind.  This is the wheel house of everything you catch.  The human brain is more complex than any computer for one simple reason.  Your mind can think, make decisions and unravel the imperfect fuzzy puzzle of fishing.  Listening to your instincts and making use of intuition (aka the sixth sense) will go long ways to making your life on the water more productive.

Thought processes that goes into a successful day on the water rival the most complex calculations by any computer  Our sport of plying the great open expanses of the big water involves a ton of variables that are constantly changing.  Fish movements, seasonal differentials and weather conditions are all waiting to throw a monkey wrench into your plans for a full box of fish and often do.

In this day and age information-overload can confuse your task.  This person says this, this other person says that, and before you know it don't know which way to turn.  Theory doesn't mean squat!  The photos featured in this article are the hard cold reel-facts that count.  All of these fish boxes were caught by fishermen that think on their feet, used the flashers, meat rigs, or flies we make and relied on their intuition!

Fishin' with Intuition

Intuition rides along for free and becomes a highly polished refined tool as more confidence is gained.  Best part about intuition?   It doesn't cost a dime to operate, it's always aboard and for the most part never lies to you!  A mental game plan organizing your thoughts into workable solutions sounds simpler than is it.  Like any fine piece of equipment you own, your mind needs care.  Do not to pollute it with long standing unproven deep-rooted myths that hinder success.

Fishing is a mental game of judgment calls based on the insights the fish are giving you.  Not catching fish?  Tried all the depths and speed adjustments?  The fish are telling you, "we're not in this area today."  Never fall into the habit of blaming yourself entirely.  Always keeping in mind, cannot create fish!

Use your intuition and do not overthink.  The best ally you have is your sixth sense.  Use forward intuitive moves and never repeat the same mistake twice.  Like retracing unproductive a trolling course, move shallower, or deeper.  Sooner, or later you'll find the fish, or as I've often thought, the fish will find me, ...if given enough time.

Sound principals of being at the right port and the right time of the season all come into play.  It's impossible to produce results if the fish are not under your boat. Don't let defeatism seep in and beat yourself up over lackluster results.  I'll let you in on a big secret, Salmon and Trout in our Great Lakes are not all that hard to catch.    
    Consistently putting yourself in the right place churn out a good box of fish is!

Click here for Capt. John's online tackle store

All photos in this article show a timeline of the tackle we began making in 2004.

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7/31/08 Kewaunee, WI
7.28.08_Manistee_Hot_Rigs.jpg (90145 bytes)
7/28/08 Manistee, MI
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8/31/08 Manistee
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9/1/08 Manistee, MI

BTI 10" Flasher

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5/13/06 South Haven

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5/26/06 Manistee

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8/10/06 Ludington

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8/23/06 Manistee
Super Mag Heads
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8/9/07 Manistee, MI

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8/18/07 Arcadia, MI

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8/31/07 Leland, MI

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9/4/07 Manistee


Thanks to all for emailing me their catch photos & making this article possible

This article was completed on 3/21/09 by Capt. John King
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MichiganSportsman Copyrightę1999-2009

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