The lake bottom, edges, rocks, roots, plants, and surrounding walls are all called the structure. The structure is where the fish live. As you cast your line into the water, you are feeling the structure with your bait. There are a lot of different kinds of baits. Some are meant to be pulled through the water quickly, others erractically, and still others are designed to be retrieved slowly and carefully.
How you retrieve your bait will determine how successful you are at catching fish. The rod and feel let you communicate with the structure and hopefully with the fish. Knowing what lies beneath the water, whether its mud, reeds, or rocks tells you how you might best entice a fish with your bait.
As I cast and retrieve, I use the time to "listen" to what my bait is telling me as I retrieve it. I had no idea how sensitive my hands could be. I can tell when my bait is traveling through weeds or rocks or when it has become mired in the mud. Sometimes, I can even feel a fish nibble my bait.
I have had some really successful rides on Izzy recently. Along with being patient with a good attitude, I decided to try and ride him with more awareness of his mouth and tongue - much like I've done while fishing. I realized that I can ride with a much lighter feel, and when I listened really closely, as I do with my rod and reel, I can feel what his mouth and tongue are doing.
On Sunday, I was absoutely delighted with how solidly he took the bit (bait?). While he was a little heavy here and there, overall, he was the most "on the bit" he's ever been for me. He got soft and supple through his back and was happy with the connection that I was asking for.
Of course, catching a few bass doesn't make me any kind of an expert on fishing. I am having fun learning though, and I am pleasantly surprised at how much fishing is like riding. My reins in the water are now doing double duty. A more relaxed rider with more sensitive hands can only be more successful in the saddle.
I wonder if the fish are biting today!