Outdoor Corner: The Pattern

Lyle Johnson

There are a lot of patterns in life that folks like to figure out. This is an outdoor column, and there are lots of patterns we’ll talk about. But that will come a little later. The first time I remember ever hearing that word was when I was a kid. That was a long time ago.

The spare room in Maw Maw Johnson’s house was the sewing room. Her and aunt Cat (Kathleen Bourque) could fix anything but a broken heart with a needle and thread. Sewing was still being used to make a good portion of the clothes for the family back then, and they were good.

Hayden Pack killed his first buck and first deer archery style shooting the 4 point at 30 yds with his crossbow on Nov. 22 in Columbia, Ms.

A big Saturday morning trip was downtown Baton Rouge as the destination, shopping at S H Kress, Montgomery Wards and some of the smaller shops. A good part of the time was always spent picking out Simplicity “patterns” to make dresses, skirts, blouses, shirts and shorts, along with yards and yards of materials.

Back home, the patterns would be taken out of the packs, attached to the selected material with pins and cut out. None of it made sense to me laying there on the floor and it always amazed me that a high quality garment was the finished product after that sewing machine stopped buzzing.

By the way, her and her group of sisters could make some world-class quilts when they got together. I don’t know why, but it never fails when I think of the word pattern this always comes to mind. Now to the outdoors.

One of the best “patterns” in the shooting world is to pattern your shotgun. That was a bit strange to me at one time as my thoughts were that there were so many shot (BB’s) in a shell and they scattered so much when a shot was taken, that really didn’t matter. But it can.

The barrel on a shotgun is smooth by design so one can vary a little from the next one. So it’s good to set up a target and get a pillow or something for a rest to take a few shots and determine where the most of the shot hits when the aim is centered on the target. Depending where the most of the shot hits the target can tell you if it’s a little high, low, left or right and your aim can be adjusted a little.

Butch Chidester holds one of the many bass he and Rod Saylor caught in a two day trip pitching and flipping the canes in Venice.

Another “pattern” is getting your rifle sighted in to the point where the shooter can establish a grouping of four or five shots within a three or four inch pattern around the bullseye. That makes you pretty comfortable and gives you confidence that a good shot can be made for a clean kill or a good score can be made in a shooting competition.

That can be witnessed at or you can compete in the South Louisiana Highpower Club Match at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 27 at the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Range on St. Landry Road, near Lamar Dixon in Gonzales. (See Outdoor Calendar)

So while were talking about guns, hunters can “pattern” the game they are seeking as well. One of the methods used for deer hunting is a game camera. They are stationed at a stand taking pictures that are date and time coded. When the photos are collected, their movements can be assessed to determine what might be the best times to be on the stand for an opportunity to get a shot.

As a rule, daylight and dusk are great times to be in the woods for a chance to see the game a hunter is seeking as breakfast and supper are in the cards, even for animals. Cold fronts, moon phases and rain affect feeding and moving patterns on a regular basis as well.

Fishing opens up a whole new arena for the word “pattern” and can be pretty complicated if you overthink it. But it does require some thinking and figuring out, so it is a delicate balance to keep you from driving yourself crazy.

There are seasonal patterns; late winter/early spring, late spring/early summer, summertime, late summer/early fall and late fall/early winter. Then there is lure patterns within those seasons. You get my drift? That’s a lot to think about, ain’t it.

So as to not drive ourselves crazy, let’s just do the Readers Digest, simple version to get us started in the right direction. It’s winter time so let’s start with that weather pattern. Bass are cold blooded. That means their activity level is determined by the water temperature.

As the temperature drops, things begin to slow down. So lure presentation needs to slow down as well. The metabolism slows down, so a fish won’t chase bait fish or your bait nearly as far as they would in warmer weather. Well, they just get lazy.

They’d prefer to let something that’s moving too fast go by and wait for something that’s slower and closer making it easy to catch. So no matter what lure you choose, slow down your retrieve so those lazy bass might take a second look.

Late winter/early spring means spawning is getting ready to start. They will still be feeding up to get fat and head for the bank to nest as the water warms up. Lure presentation can speed up a little but slow is still good.

Late spring/early summer is one of the toughest times to catch bass as the spawn takes a lot out of them. The males clean the nest out and guard it until a female lays the eggs. Then after the rigors of nesting, the males guard the fry (tiny bass) as the female tries to recuperate. Usually everything in the tackle box gets used, sometimes to no avail.

In the summertime things are wide open. Bait is swimming fast and bass are chasing with lots of gusto, trying to catch anything they can get a hold of to fill their empty stomach. That means normal to fast lure retrieve can be added to the repertoire of an angler.

Late fall/early winter is one of my favorite times as their metabolism is still high as water temps are up. The addition is their desire to eat increases as they start to pile on weight, getting ready for the spawn once again.

Lure selection is another pattern we’ll figure out in the future. There can be patterns within a pattern. It’s complicated, I know. So until next time, remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!