The 5 Why's - Increase Your Effectiveness!

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Sam Ubl
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The 5 Why's - Increase Your Effectiveness!

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:07 am

This is an article I wrote this year. It's pertinent again to musky fisherman, however, reaches out more to the enthusiasts, rather than the die hards.

The 5-Why's of Becoming a Better Musky Fisherman

“Masterpiece”, a term coined to describe a product of someone’s creation as their greatest work of outstanding creativity, skill and workmanship. While some Musky fishermen have the gift of good fortune, their experience on the water is what ultimately constitutes their success strategies as ‘masterful’. Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” He suggests that true knowledge is gained through experiential learning – insightful.

Different strategies for catching more or bigger fish, are tossed around so loosely that some secrets just aren’t safe anymore – or are they? We’ve all heard the that burning bucktails elicits strikes, fishing the night shift can produce better action than fishing by the light of day, or using bigger blades catches bigger fish, but why? Most of us take these tips and use them, and a lot of times they work, right? It’s no question they work, otherwise the word wouldn’t spread so fast, but what many anglers today are failing to do is read between the lines.

“What’s been working today, may not work tomorrow!” That’s what I always tell people when they suggest their going to steer away from what they’ve been trying in order to do exactly what they heard has been working. The examples of strategies I laid out above are all true at some point – somewhere, but how do you know if it’s working where you are? Take the “burning blades” example into account. While this tactic has been proven, how can you be certain it will work under the current conditions you are facing when you decide to try it? Water temperature plays a huge roll in the success of this technique, but even that’s just a statement. What are details behind the statement? Why does water temperature play a roll in whether or not a musky will chase down a speeding bucktail?

The 5 Whys

The “5 Whys” is a question-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationship underlying a success or failure, postulating that 5 iterations of asking ‘why’ will divulge the root cause of your success or failure. It is important to bear in mind that immediate answers for these questions don’t exist – if they did, you wouldn’t find the need to question why something did or didn’t work. The whole point of the 5 Why’s is to get you thinking. Before you can test a theory, you must first form a hypothesis or a list of possibilities you can rule out.

For example:

Why? – Burning a bucktail didn’t get me bit
Why? – I must have been reeling too fast
Why? – I didn’t even get followed
Why? – They must not have had the energy to chase it down
Why? – The water was cold. Cold water makes them sluggish and lowers their metabolism. They will not spend energy chasing.

In order to effectively answer these questions, you have to be willing to fully engage yourself in what you are doing when you’re on the water so you can reflect on the experience. Musky fishing has very few followers for a couple of reasons: a) Expensive gear and tackle, and b) - Its just plain tough.

For a beginner in the musky world, it’s important to first recognize that musky fishing isn’t just a hobby, it’s an addiction. There’s no limit to how much you can learn if you apply yourself in this sport, which keeps it interesting. Every time on the water is a new experience, and one that you can learn from. Taking mental notes only takes you so far, that’s why I keep a log all season long to record all my trips. There are a couple of ways to record your visits to a muskies home that can reveal rewarding knowledge after time, but time takes patience – a learned trait to all serious musky fisherman.

I have countless examples of being asked what their biting on or where their biting, and sure I have an answer, but on many occasions, it holds no value, at least not permanent value. One night, a few friends who had just gotten off the lake with me were celebrating a big catch at the tavern. A couple of heads perked up as we reviewed the pictures in the camera and spoke of the catch. A gentleman leaned in to get a view of the picture, followed by the question I knew was coming, “Wow! What did you catch her on?”

“Top-water”, I replied.

“Oh, surface bait, eh?” The man responded before taking his seat by a couple interested friends of his.

I saw the man at the same place, once again while celebrating over another fine night on the water after my partner and I found a couple of active fish on a highly-pressured weed flat. We had been following the same pattern we had the week prior with no success to speak of, so we switched it up and tried something completely different – we went shallow. The man greeted us with, “So, how’d you do tonight?”

“We tripled up this evening, it was a hot bite!” My partner answered, followed by a confirming nod by yours truly.

“Well I haven’t even seen a fish, much less caught one and I’ve been throwing top-water baits all week!” The man responded.
What the man didn’t know is that I had caught my fish working a top-water bait over 70 feet of water, and the only reason I had thrown the lure was because we had multiple follows and flash-off’s working Shumways Giant Flasher and Shallow Dawgs through thick schools of Cisco riding high in the water column and I wanted to change things up and see if I could draw a strike. I went to a 10 inch Weagle and started walking the dog back to the boat to look like an injured Cisco disoriented on the surface – it worked.

To improve your consistency in producing big catches, you have to first be willing to learn. In order to learn, you have to be actively involved in the experience your gaining while on the water, and that involves conceptualizing new ideas and taking risks by trying them. The 5 Why’s forces you to use your decision making and problem solving skills in order to use the fresh ideas derived from your experiences. With time, your notes will be there to reference and draw ideas or conclusions from, and your memory will serve as a living textbook with environmental conditions as your chapters.

While musky rank the highest in the food chain amongst the rest of the freshwater fish in all of North America, it’s safe to say that they are aggressive feeders. That said, a great jumping off point for that beginner to intermediate musky fisherman out there who is willing to put in the time to really grow as a musky hunter would be to learn the muskies quarry. Understanding musky how musky forage for prey means more than just learning what they eat. You must start from the beginning by learning when and where they spawn relative to temperature and average date ranges. Migratory patterns and the environmental indicators can be key performance indicators for the successful musky hunter. Like many have heard before, “Where you find forage, muskies won’t be far behind.”

Musky fishing isn’t easy, there’s no hiding that, but if it were it would certainly drain out of the aspects that have created the passion behind so many smiles in pictures, stories retold and memories made. If you haven’t had a 4-foot fish eat at your feet with ferocity and grace, than get out there and start doing more than just fishing – start musky huntin’!


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Sam Ubl
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Re: The 5 Why's - Increase Your Effectiveness!

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Tue Mar 09, 2010 2:27 pm

Hey, I appreciate that Dan!
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