If you listen to enough bass anglers, especially tournament anglers, you’ll hear the phrase “develop a pattern” when they’re talking about fishing. It’s a phrase mentioned a lot, but explained very little. What does it mean to develop a pattern, and how do you go about developing one? Marc Deschenes of Summerville’s VIP Adventures knows all about developing a pattern for bass.
Deschenes not only develops patterns in local tournaments and throughout the country on the FLW Tour, but he also owns VIP Adventures, which is made up of a series of ponds that he designed specifically to help other anglers understand patterns and how to develop them.
If you pay much attention to Major League Baseball games on television, you’ve probably noticed that baseball is the king of statistics. It’s not uncommon to see a player step into the batter’s box, then his stats listed at the bottom of the screen. It will often say something like “batting .293 during the month of August with runners in scoring position in night games after the seventh-inning stretch, when the night game is the second game of a double-header while batting left-handed against a right-handed pitcher.”
That is a very comprehensive set of circumstances that, if they are all present, you could count on this guy getting on base a little over twenty-nine percent of the time. This is that batter’s pattern. In much the same way, anglers can pattern bass.
Deschenes (843-708-5473) that sometimes, all those factors don’t have to be in place every time. Sometimes, the pattern is just that bass are biting a certain lure in deep holes with a little bit of current near shallow sandbars. Other times, he said, a whole laundry list of items make up a pattern.
“I’ve been fishing and caught a bass on a jig near a brush pile, and figured that’s the pattern, but couldn’t catch any other fish on brush piles. Then I’d go back to the first brush pile and realize that the brush pile was near submerged grass, so I searched the rest of the lake for other brush piles near submerged grass. No luck, so back to the first brush pile again. I’m trying to figure out what is special, what is different about that first brush pile. Then I realized the brush pile was midway down a gradual slope that lead from the submerged grass to a deep hole. When I found another brush pile with those same characteristics, I caught more fish. I knew I’d found the pattern,” Deschenes said.
One thing Deschenes said you can rarely, if ever, predict, is how long a pattern will last. “I’ve fished tournaments where one pattern worked for the first two days, and on the third day, the pattern was a complete bust. That’s how some anglers go from leading until the last day, then finishing out of the money. When the pattern breaks down, you’ve got to face it, then find another pattern—the current pattern. That’s tough to do when something has been working so well that it has you in first place, but that’s how quickly a pattern can go away,” he said.
At VIP Adventures, Deschenes has a set of well-stocked ponds, and each pond has unique characteristics over the others. Anglers can spend time fishing rock piles in one pond, and figuring out what has bass biting around certain rock piles. They can fish brush piles in another pond and figure out what has certain brush piles more attractive to bass than others. Each of his other ponds has unique characteristics that help anglers figure out patterns related to those features. Obviously, these pieces of structure can’t help them when they’re fishing in a tournament at a totally different body of water three months from now, but it can help them understand how to go about developing a pattern, and what lures and techniques work around certain types of structure.
“Very often, one angler can find success with a certain pattern in one lake, and another angler in the very same lake can catch just as many fish on the same day with a totally different pattern. So being able to practice in these ponds, with the unique ways I have them set up, gives anglers a chance to practice developing multiple patterns. That way, when they’re leading a tournament by using a certain pattern, only to see that pattern break down on day three, they won’t hesitate to abandon it. They’ll have experience finding other patterns and will feel comfortable developing another one that will hopefully keep them on top,” said Deschenes.