- Mon Feb 05, 2018 8:29 am
It’s definitely a puzzle. These days, I generally paddle or motor around until I see something that looks promising, some sort of bait activity that looks interesting. Cold, sterile, apparently bait free clear water usually keeps me moving fast out of there. So the main thing is I’m looking for any cues or signals I get from the bait. A mullet flip in winter is exciting. Two or three in one spot, I wet my pants. Little finger sized Mullet hugging a shallow reef, now why the heck are they doing that? Could it be something, perhaps a predator is influencing that?
One thing I’ve noticed when you sort of know you are in Fish but it isn’t working out on the catching is to change up your presentation. One way to know that you are in fish is that either you or your fishing buddy is catching fish and the other person isn’t. I’ve been doing more fishing out of a boat lately and then you are throwing your offering from the same spot to potentially the same spot as your buddy. Sometimes, the catch rate can really vary. The variance often comes down to the exact way the lure is getting presented, how it’s being brought over the structure.
My boat fishing friends and I are really in tune with trying to mimic each other. So let’s say one guy starts catching fish about every cast or every third cast and this continues. The one that’s not will start to try and mimic the other guy’s exact presentation. That often fixes the catch rate so that both are catching fish at a nearly identical rate.
If you are fishing alone, you can still do this. If I really think everything is indicating there are predator fish feeding where I am, I’ll really comb over the spot with a fine tooth comb. It might be about setting up the drift in just the right slot that hits a promising part of the structure. It might be just slowing down the retrieval. Know your tendencies. I tend to work flies and lures too fast. Knowing this, I remind myself to slow things down.
Fishing with others can help. Two or three folks working a structure can cover water better than one. One guy misses the signs that the other picks up on and vice versa.
I know my approach to any spot is to use all my senses to see if I can pick up on anything. Then I try to have a mental picture of the structure. Is it reef, grass, sand, mud and shell, drop offs, guts, bars, humps, what’s the deal. What’s the depth, what’s the current doing. Of course, you may not be able to see the structure, but there are things you can infer and you can eliminate certain possibilities. I’m looking a bird activity. Herons and egrets on a shoreline stalking, they are eating the same stuff the fish do. Osprey and pelicans focused diving in an area, we know there’s bait there. It doesn’t mean you fish directly under them.
I’ve had a fantastic fall and winter of fishing, some out of a boat with a friend or two and some solo missions from the kayak. I’ve watched other kayakers 100 yards from me paddle right by the fish with maybe a half hearted cast or two. I’ve actually gone over to where they paddled by only minutes before and caught one fish after another. I don’t think they are comprehending what they are seeing. Most outings, there’s been stretches where it’s about an every cast a fish catch rate. We’ve had friends come up in other boats and tell us how bad the fishing is and we’ve tore them up in the exact same places. What’s going on I believe is that they aren’t paying attention to the details of Fish sign, structure and presentation.
There’s nothing really random about it. Fish are focused and intentional creatures. They intentionally select spots that vary with tides and bait movements and salinity and water temperatures to increase their comfort level and to increase the odds of getting a meal. I believe a fisherman needs to be intentional too. If you want to go out and anchor up some place and soak some bait to just chill that’s totally cool and kudos to you. Fishing means different things to different people and none of it is wrong.
I like the puzzle and especially like solving it. The puzzle pieces frequently change. As long as I’m out there looking for clues and working solutions, I’m happy. Some days, the math is insanely easy. Some days, I run out of time before I get the solution down. The way I look at it is that fish are super intentional in what they do and they have a lot of freedom to make choices (with physiological limitations) on where they will be. They are driven by hunger, by sex, by the need for security, some of the basic things that drive us. We don’t turn down a delicious easy meal and generally know where to find it and they are about the same.