Thursday, May 31, 2012

Have a Fishing Plan

Planning your Fishing Trip can Help Put Fish in the Boat!

When you take a day to fish, do you simply head out to a favorite spot, anchor the boat, and fish all day – sometimes catching fish and sometimes not? Do you come home some days skunked, saying, “They just weren’t biting today”? Well, take note. There is something you can do that might cure some of those bad days.

Know Your Fishing Spots

I believe very angler has several fishing “holes” where they have caught fish in the past. And for the saltwater angler, any given launch ramp that you use probably has several of these holes in fairly close proximity to that ramp. All of you can sit back and “remember the day” that you caught some good fish at any or all of these locations. So, you do have more than one place to fish on any given day. The problem arises when you decide to fish one location all day. It then becomes a hit or miss situation – some days the fish seem to be there and some days, the fish don’t. You simply accept it and go off thinking, “That’s why they call it fishing.”

Know Your Tides

Tides are perhaps the most important factor to consider when it comes to knowing where and when to fish. Depending on your area of the country, those tides can range from a couple of feet to over twenty feet, and the fish react to these depth changes with amazing predictability. You know that there are some of your fishing holes that may be inaccessible at low tide. What you may not know is that on the days you caught fish in a particular hole the tide was always running either in or out. If you paid particular attention, you may have noted that on the days you did not catch fish in that hole, the tide was always running the opposite direction. In police work, they call that a clue!

Keep a Log

Over time, keeping a fishing log can become a habit that will serve you well over the years. Keeping track of things like air temperature, tide stage, weather, season, time of day and of course, what you caught or didn’t catch will be important reference material for future trips. Take note that I said to log what you did NOT catch as well. Some people only log this information on places they actually caught fish. It is important to know where you did NOT catch fish and what the particular conditions were.
Logs can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as sophisticated as professional software. Personally, I use a spreadsheet I built myself – and I am no computer expert. I use a predetermined set of terms under each of the headings I mentioned above so that I can go back and sort and search on the sheet.
For example, if I know tomorrow will be a cool, September day, the tide will be falling the morning, and I will be fishing in the area of launch ramp “X”, I can go in, sort my log, and find out what fish were caught and where in those same conditions in the past. Generally, there will be more than one location that pops up, and just as important, there will be locations that did NOT pop up. So, I eliminate even going to those locations that did not pop up, saving me valuable time and fuel.

Now – Make a Plan

If you know your spots, have the log, and you have done due diligence with past trips, it’s time to make a plan for tomorrow’s trip. Check the tide tables and determine what the tide will be in each of your locations. Look at the weather forecast. Plug all the information into your brain, and search your log for previous successful trips under the same circumstances.
You will find that one or more locations produced fish in the morning and perhaps one or more produced in the afternoon. Your log will tell you all of that.
Now, it is simply a matter of picking your locations and making logical choices on fishing spots. That means you will be moving during the day! That means you will need to keep track of time and distance so that you can be in the right spot at the right time.

Bottom Line

If you have ever fished with a guide, you may have noticed that you moved quite frequently during the day. Those were not random moves. That guide had a plan and moved to locations he knew had produced fish in the past under those given conditions.
Does all this mean you will catch fish every time you go? Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Even the guides get skunked occasionally. But, if you have plotted more than a couple of places that produced fish say – in the morning on an outgoing tide in September, you should be able to find some fish in at least one of those locations on a similar day. You certainly have a better chance that you do sitting in one location all day lamenting that, “They just aren’t biting today…!”

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