3 Tips To Be a More Effective Fisherman

Brian Oakland with a big steelhead

I get asked a lot what is the key to being successful at fishing? Particularly when you are targeting species such as steelhead, salmon, or trying to “match the hatch” in an attempt to trick a hungry trout, or even a “lowly” carp. All of these require a certain skill. Whether it be the ability to perfectly bounce your beads or roe sack just off the bottom of the river so the presentation is right in the steelhead face or just slightly above it, or being able to cast your fly line far enough so you can mend and manage the line in time to present a true to life trout snack right down the seam. Each species of fish can and usually does require a particular kind of bait, bug, plug, presentation, and even time of day plays into things, but with all that said the single biggest differentiator in the amount, or quality of fish caught would be…time on the water! But who has the time these days? I mean yes, in an ideal world I want to fish as much as possible for as long as possible, but the reality is I have a wife, kids, a cool job, and other responsibilities that significantly reduces the amount of time I can responsibly be on the water. Plus, at least with my wife, if I make shorter, less obtrusive trips she seems to be a lot cooler with me going more…go figure? So how do you make sure that when you get to the water you are able to fish it as efficiently and effectively as possible? Well here are three fishing tips that are guaranteed to help you be more successful with less time.

1. Research the water:

Knowing where to fish a body of water, or what to use depending on the season will dramatically increase your opportunities. Whether you are headed to a river, lake, or stream do a little research. With all the information that’s out there on the internet it’s pretty difficult to not find someone that has either created a website dedicated to the fishery, or a blog from someone that just recently fished the waters. A couple searches and you are a lot more educated than you were. No sense in heading to a river or lake that’s not fishing well. Either relocate your trip to another piece of water, or hold off until the time is right.

2. Time of Day:

I think this is a big one! Every fishery is different, and there is an optimum time to be fishing, and some not so optimum times to be fishing. Don’t be there when you shouldn’t be if you have a limited amount of time! This gets back to doing some research. If you’re fishing for salmon on a river system you should really be there FIRST thing in the morning as the fishing gets harder and harder the higher the sun gets leaving little shade for the fish to feel like they are hidden so they head for the deeper, harder to reach waters. Or another one if you’re a fly fisherman is to know when the hatches are happening on that particular piece of water you’re headed to. A lot of fisherman and women think typically morning or evenings are best, but I was just over fishing on the Owyhee River in Oregon, and the hatch was from 1pm till 4pm, and then it was over. Before 1pm the fishing was honestly tough, but once the hatch started it was fish on, and then as quick as the action started it was over…for the day. So fishing the morning or the evening was not the ideal time to be there, and if you had limited time, or a half day to head to the river that would be information you would want to know…right? So knowing a little about when the fish get active in the area you are going fishing can greatly increase the amount of fish you get to battle that day!

3. Attitude is key:

I truly believe that the single most important tool to bring to the water is confidence! If you have done some research, and taken care of your responsibilities then head to the water knowing you’re going to catch fish. I’m not talking about some Jedi mind trick. I’m talking about a confidence that the fishing is going to treat you right! Every fisherman that has spent some serious time on the water has seen the power of confidence at work. Not only in others, but also in their own success or lack of it. I have personally witnessed it, and felt it! Years back when I started fly fishing for steelhead I would step into the water “hoping” I would touch down on a chromer vs. knowing that I would be touching down. One day I was fishing this hole using the exact same bug, casting in the exact same spot only to watch the guy next to me hook up over and over, and me not touch a fish! Why? Because I was fishing nervous, and wanting it so bad that I was creating bad energy which was preventing me from making it happen. Where the guy next to me had a look and aura of ‘I got this‘. He looked like at any second he would be hooking up, and then it would happen. It was crazy but it taught me a huge lesson. Think confidently, act confidently, and good things will happen. Go to the water in a panicked, or rushed spirit with baggage in the back of your mind because you didn’t get the things done that needed to get done, and the fishing will be tough at best. Go to the same waters with a clean, and confident disposition and your success rate will be significantly higher, as will your enjoyment! Think I’m crazy….try it!

With our busy lives it’s tough to balance family, work, and play so when it’s time to fish, make sure you do yourself a favor and put the odds on your side! Oh ya, and don’t forget to get a friend or youth involved in fishing, it’s the best Karma of all!

Fish hard – Fish smart!