Frequently members will post on the forum asking for specifics on where to fish and what to use, never realizing that even if they get specifics, such as go stand on GPS coordinates XY, cast out a brand Z lure 45 feet in a northeastern direction using rod A coupled with reel B loaded with line C, wait D seconds then crank the lure in at E speed, they are not likely to catch any more fish.
Why? From my perspective, detailed information is only good at the moment. So while all of the above mentioned factors might have caught fish yesterday, there is no guarantee that particular combination will produce today, and frequently it doesn’t. Which is why I rarely fish the same spot two days in a row and when I do, I typically have to switch up my tactics to be successful.
Conditions change from day to day, even hour to hour. Skilled fishers recognize this. They use their knowledge of the species they’re targeting, coupled with a broad knowledge of tackle and tactics to put together a successful pattern. Ther is no need to be pointed to a specific spot or told what to use to catch fish. Simply, knowledge is one key to becoming a good angler.
While time on the water is always my preferred learing method, the reality is there is so much to know, that short of fishing with a pro every time out, fishing alone isn’t likely going to be enough to raise your skill levels. Going to the same spots and using the same tactics will catch you a few fish, but expanding your horizons is really the only way you’re going to become a better angler.
One way to “up your game” is by “studying” fishing from others, be it through fishing forums, talking with fellow anglers (on the water, at shows, or club meeting for example), watching TV programs and videos, and/or reading about fishing. The latter is my preference, be it on the ‘net, books, and magazines. While the internet is awash with information, my preference of reading material remains books (preferably core knowledge and how-to), fishing rags (magazines), and scientific journal articles.
Personally, my collection of fishing texts is larger than most offerings at your neighborhood book store, and it continues to grow. In the last month I’ve added titles on fish’s eyesight, fish’s senses, patterning bass, and in-shore saltwater fishing. Further, I subscribe to several magazines and am constantly purchasing others that appeal to me on occasion. You might think that as a fly fisher, they would mostly be fly fishing oriented. Nope. That’s because there isn’t a whole lot of information out there on fly fishing for bass, and what there is, is extremely limited in scope.
What I look to glean out of my readings is information on the fish’s biology, such as what does it eat and when does it feed, when does it spawn, what cover does it use . . . Secondarily, I look at the tactics used, and ask why the author used them, what was it about those tactics that caused the fish to bite, and can I make a “similar” presentation with my fly rod?
My books are marked up. Useful magazine articles are “clipped” out and placed into cataloged folders for future reference. Internet sites references along with copy are kept in document files and placed into folders. Plus, I keep notes from shows and fishing excursions.
On and off the water I work at learning all I can about fishing and right now is the time to be studying; working on building your core knowledge base. Get in the habit of learning all you can about fishing and will you soon find the only thing you really want to know about a new lake is what species are there, everything else is a bonus. That’s because, for me, figuring out new waters is most of the fun.