3 Easy Steps to Catch More Fish: Fishing Made Easy...er
Many clients I take out fishing are damaged.
You read that right: many of the clients I take out fishing are damaged--especially those new to fishing.
They think fishing is boring.
Having guided out west in Montana and Wyoming for trout on the fly and down here on Anna Maria Island for saltwater species on all types of tackle, I have noticed that most of my clients have one thing in common: they have a memory as a kid of going fishing with their father or grandfather and letting a worm hang under a bobber for hours on end with nothing happening. They sit there and wait for something to happen: a good activity for old men, but not for kids and not for those who want a little bit of excitement.
The cause of their boredom and their lack of success is simply that: they wait for something to happen to them. They have taken part in a passive activity and merely hope for something exciting to happen to them--a recipe for boredom both in life and fishing.
But what if I told you that fishing didn't have to be boring? What if I told you that fishing can be both the rush of a lifetime and the most peaceful moment you've had all year? What if I told you that fishing can be whatever you want it to be?
Whether you're used to soaking a night-crawler under a big red-and-white bobber on a farm pond, fly fishing for trout in a pristine Montana river, or chasing monster tarpon in the gulf, these 3 simple fundamental steps will help you get the most out of your fishing time...and may even make a true angler out of you after all.
STEP 1: USE THE RIGHT BAIT, LURE, OR FLY
This is step #1 for a reason. Ignore this and you have thrown out any "luck" that you hoped to have. Do some research. Know what fish you want to target and what their diet consists of in your area. Are bass primarily chowing down on an abundance of crawfish in your area or do they prefer shad?
Ask your local tackle shop or take a hike down to your favorite fishing spot and simply watch. Examine the banks. Turn over rocks. See crawfish scurrying around? Notice shad or small baitfish creating "raindrops" on the surface or swimming around in schools? Take note of this and choose your bait, fly, or lure accordingly. Sure, I could throw a live baitfish to a permit, but I have reduced my chances of a hook-up since I know that a permit loves to feed on crustaceans when given the choice.
Maximize your chances of hooking up to a fish by knowing what they are eating. Most of the time you simply just need to observe your surroundings and do a brief bit of research--easy stuff.
STEP 2: THINK LIKE A FISH (hint: their brains are small)
Now that you have chosen the right bait, you are in a far better spot to get a hook up, but the work isn't done yet. Now you need to step outside of yourself for a while and begin to think like a fish--this is the zen of fishing. This is where peace finds you, even if you are doing some adrenaline pumping fishing like chasing down rolling tarpon.
You have left your stress, your phone, your job, and your problems at the dock. You are no longer yourself anymore. You get to step outside of yourself and think like a fish. Your only concerns now are all that concerns a fish: feeding, shelter, and reproduction.
Once you understand that fish only think about those three things, fishing becomes a whole lot easier.
Now, since, we have the right kind of bait, lure, or fly, we have the feeding portion covered in our fish brains.
Next is shelter. If you are a fish, and predators lurk all around you (even above as birds can be quite the threat), where are you going to hide? Now keep in mind that you still need to feed, but you have to feed in relative safety. This is where structure comes into play.
Remember this one thing: fish love structure.
They want to be able to take cover quickly from predators, as well as ambush their prey; structure provides them the ability to do this. Look for currents that seem different than the rest of the water--chances are there is some structure underneath to fish. Downed trees, roots, rocks, weeds, docks-- anything is better than open water for most species.
By making sure that you are fishing an area in which your target species like to hang out will help ensure your success when coupled with the right bait, lure, or fly.
STEP 3: TAKE ACTION
By waiting around for something to happen, you are shooting yourself in the foot. If you've taken the steps above and still nothing seems to be working, start to take action. This is the step that separates those who catch fish here and there, and those who consistently seem to be catching the most and the biggest fish. People may call you lucky, but if you have an understanding of the basics and you're taking action constantly, then you know that it's more than luck. It's your craft.
Are the fish not biting on a bait you know they are feeding on in an area where you know they are? Switch from mono-filament to fluorocarbon. Downsize your hook and leader--especially the case during the hot summer when the water is clearer and the sun is right overhead. Make sure your presentation (your bait, fly, or lure and how you present it to fish) is flawless. Be stealthy. Remember, fish are constantly on alert for predators and you are included in this. Don't make extremely loud noises or they will shoot for cover. You want your tackle and your set up to look as natural as possible. Use less weight, use more weight, experiment, but always be taking action.
I have spent countless days on the water at this point, and the amount of times in which you get your recipe right ,right from the dock, and don't have to change anything is rare. Very rare. Always be observant and take action.
If you simply wait for things to happen to you, both in life and fishing, then you are going to need a lot of luck...or a lot of time.