I believe the more you know about an activity, the better youíll be at it. Regardless of whether its work, hobby, or sport, knowledge is a key component to success. In my case, fishing is a favorite activity and Iím a perpetual student.
Fishing is a way for me to interact with nature, an excuse to be outside and enjoy what nature has to offer. While fishing, Iím constantly observing my surroundings. Often, Mother Nature provides clues that help me catch fish. For example, swallows darting around over the waterís surface is often indicative of a hatch coming off, even if the fish arenít rising. In these situations, Iíll often fish pupa or emerger patterns near the surface with good success. Feeding herons, grebes, gulls, or pelicans indicate good numbers of baitfish. This often means thereís an excellent chance of feeding fish nearby also.
Aside from picking up clues to help me catch fish, I get great pleasure watching wildlife and being outside. Last Sunday, while fishing at Jackson, there were several bald eagles in the area. I noted a half dozen sitting on the ice edge (the reservoir was still partially frozen), and a couple of juveniles spent a lot of time roosting in a nearby cottonwood. Plus, there were good numbers of waterfowl, gulls, and other birds to watch.
The bonus sightings for the day were a large flock of turkeys in a field on the way to the reservoir and I spotted what I believe was a martin working along the shoreline. Once the ramps open for boat launching, Iíll be able to carry my SLR camera and long lenses to take a few wildlife shots.
One aspect of nature that many of my fellow anglers seem to overlook is itís cyclic. Actually, thatís not quite correct, weíre all aware of Mother Natureís cycles, such as the seasons and spawning periods. However, there are numerous cycles that often get overlooked. This weekend at Jackson is a case in point. Every year the inlet area is one of the first areas to ice-off and typically warms first. This often coincides with the spring filling of the reservoir. While many plan on fishing Jackson when itís filling, most fail to recognize that even if the reservoir isnít filling, the warmer waters attract fish, most notably carp and shad, which are soon followed by the predatory walleye and wiper.
Knowing this, I fished Jackson last weekend expecting the carp to have moved into the area much as they do every year shortly after ice-off or, as was the case this year, as the ice is coming off. Much like years past, I caught a couple dozen fish in an afternoon.
Cycles such as this abound and are often difficult to determine. While seasonal in nature, their actual timing can vary several weeks due to weather, or, in the case of Jackson, when the canal is turned on to fill the reservoir.
The simplest way to pick up on cycles is to maintain a journal. Record when and where you fish, what you used, success, or lack thereof, and, most importantly, any environmental factors you can think of, such as water temperature. Itís also good to make notes on favorite waters based on the reports from other sources, friends, neighbors, Facebook, websites, or newspapers. Every year, review your journals and it wonít be long before cycles, patterns if you will, start to show up.
My success last week wasnít as much luck, as it was knowledge of a spring carp pattern that I was able to capitalize on. Knowledge is key to fishing success.
First appeared in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, February, 26, 2017