If I were going to share 101 things to enhance your fishing success and enjoyment, what would that look like? Well, it would look like me rambling on about fishing, and here it goes. Yeah, I’m that crazy!
- Safety first. Don’t crank that engine without your lifejacket. Onyx Outdoors makes a very comfortable one you can wear all day.
- Dress for the weather. If you are comfortable, you will be able to concentrate on fishing.
- Use quality equipment. Most cheap stuff will break and wear out and make you more frustrated than enjoyment.
- Information is power. Study everything and everyone.
- Quality paper maps can allow you to scout and plan ahead of time.
Electronics and Data Tips
- Learn to use electronics. Quality electronics such as Lowrance HDS Carbon with 3D Scan is crazy awesome to see what’s down there.
- Get an underwater fishing camera and verify what you see on your sonar is actually what you think it is. It could also tell you if your spot is holding fish.
- Organize waypoints. Don’t load it all on your graph, only load the information you need for the day.
- Social mapping. C-Map, Fishidy, Navionics. Use them regularly when out of the boat scouting to go along with your paper maps.
- Social media. People love to tell their story and you can get some valuable information, many times.
- Keep a log. Gathering data on your catches help you see patterns and repeatable opportunities. The GoFish Cam app is a great way to log data with your videos of each catch.
Pay attention to the thermocline. You can spot this with your electronics and know that fish can not live below it because the is not enough oxygen at that level.
- Medium-Heavy rods are the workhorse and work well in almost any situation.
- Light rods are great for finesse fishing, especially drop shots and tubes.
- Heavy rods are my go to for flipping a jig in heavy cover. Additionally these rods work great if using any in-line tools like a GoFish Cam.
- Spinning reels go hand in hand with light rods that need that finesse presentation.
- Casting reels are the workhorse of the reels and there are some great options out there today.
Bait and Lure Tips
- Top water baits are extremely fun and are best when the water is near calm.
- Carolina Rigs use soft plastics to find offshore bass and are know as effective search baits.
- Use spinnerbaits to power fish shallows. Even a beginner can catch bass on a spinnerbait. This would be my second go-to bait.
- Crankbaits are used to probe the depths and gain a reaction strike. Bank them against structure to trigger the bite. Cast to the same spot over and over, trust me.
- Football jigs are like carolina rigs in they probe the bottom like a crawfish.
- Swim jigs are great when you are fishing some weed lines, but don’t want to have a lot of vibration like a spinnerbait or bladed jig.
- Structure jigs are designed to get into that cover where big mama lives. They are great for tree tops, and great around stumps and rock formation.
- Shakey head worm in a standup jig is super effective. Just hopp that sucker around rocks or cover and they can’t resist.
- When Texas rigging, push the hook all the way through but allow the hook to lay flat along the bait. Then just tuck the tip into the soft plastic. You will get more hookups.
- Adding a tube or worm rattle simulates crawfish and baitfish sounds.
- Adding a nailhead weight to one end of a wacky worm rig will give it an erratic dart that will entice reaction strikes.
- Don’t be afraid to use a wacky worm in deeper water. Just add a little heavier weight to get it to be bottom quicker.
- Muddy and heavy stained water calls for dark colored baits so the fish can locate them easier.
- White and chartreuse as well as other light colors are great for clear water and clear skies.
- Lipless crankbaits are great in stump fields and grass edges.
- Texas rigged creature baits fished along rock structures and docks can be deadly.
Color changing baits can add extra flare to your presentation. Smartbaits is a good example.
Fishing lines and setting Tips
- Sweep set the hook. This will help keep from yanking the bait away from the fish.
- Good knots. The palomar knot is my go-to, but learn different types of knots.
- Braid is best used when in heavy cover, and with expensive lures or products on your line will be the best case scenario if you get snagged up on anything.
- Monofilament is generally an all around good choice and keeps from making too hard of a hook set and pulling the bait out of their mouth.
- Fluorocarbon is a good choice when you are in extreme clear water conditions.
- Cylinder drop shot weights are best for weeds but use teardrop weights in the rocks to prevent hangups.
- Tungsten weights help you feel the bottom and structure better
- Develop confidence. The more you fish, the more confidence you develop as an angler.
- Pay attention to others. What bait are they using, where are they located. After they move off, use your graph and underwater fishing cameras to check out the environment.
- Join a club. The experiences of the other anglers can prove invaluable. It's also a great way to participate in your angling community.
- Practice identifying structure. Again, regularly use your electronics like underwater cameras and scout for this.
- Practice identifying cover. Learn different kinds of grasses and growth in the lake and how the fish relate to it. The GoFish Cam can help you spy on them.
- Put structure and cover together. If you find an area with 2 types of structure and 2 types of cover, you will find fish.
- Tune your electronics. Learn to adjust your settings and transducer angles to give you the best and most accurate picture.
- Use a variety of lures. Then develop a subset of what the current conditions call for.
- Use a variety of presentations. Sometimes fish are aggressive, sometimes you have to slow things down.
- Discover a pattern. Once you catch a fish, ask yourself why. Find a pattern that is repeatable.
- Use the wind. Wind blows plankton toward the shore. Baitfish rat the plankton and the bigger fish feed on the baitfish.
- Know the seasonal pattern. Every season has fish moving around. Know where the fish are migrating to and from.
- Get to know the local guides. Hire one every once in awhile.
- Talk to the local tackle store. They usually know what everyone is using to catch what fish. This one is on my top priority list.
- Go fishing with other anglers to gain a different perspective. We often don’t look beyond our own knowledge, even when we should.
- Watch professionals. With the new formats and coverage, you can see what the pros' techniques are and study their locations and patterns.
- Fish as a co-angler or marshall. Hanging out with a pro can give you invaluable insight.
- Match the hatch. Know what the fish are eating naturally and fish with something similar.
- Use scents, not necessarily to attract fish, but they will hang on to your bait longer, giving you a better chance of setting the hook.
- Silence is golden. The slightest noise, to include your sonar, can spook pressured fish.
- Trim your skirts for finesse situations.
- Add a trailer to a jig to give it body.
- Add a trailer hook to a spinnerbait to catch bass that are hitting short.
- Keep it sharp. Sharpen or replace hooks often.
- Polarized sunglasses will allow you to see more clearly through the water as well as protect your eyes.
- Good vibrations. Bass react to vibrations, both heavy and light, depending on the mood of the fish. Baitcloud is awesome for attracting some fish to a spot.
- Knock Knock. Hit structure with your bait on the retrieve.
- Bleeding edge. Add some red to simulate injured prey.
- Tick the tops of grass with your crankbait to draw reaction strikes.
- Use a buoy marker, not to mark the fish but to mark your boat position.
- Rock-n-Roll. Rocks are hotspots for rolling a tube or jig around. They attract bait which attracts fish.
- Power fish. Turn the trolling motor on constant at a slow rate and keep moving. Covering as much structure and cover to develop a pattern is important.
- Livewell additives help hold the stress down on your catch and keep them healthy
- Maintain your boat to keep the breakdowns on the water to a minimum
- Stay organized so that you are not pulling everything out of your boxes to find that specific bait.
- Shallow water anchors are your friend. 1 is good, 2 is awesome. Power-Poles can stop you and hold you in position.
- Hydrate yourself. Again, safety is first, including your health.
- Bass prefer shaded areas out of the sun. Use that to your advantage.
- 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water. Think about that and keep it in mind.
- Check your livewell. Bass will spit up what they have been eating many times and you will know what to fish with.
- Bass are SR (stimulus-reactive) in nature. You can aggravate them to the point they either eat your bait, try to move it away from them or leave. The latter less likely.
- Find the baitfish, find the big fish. Watch for birds on the water to know where to find baitfish.
- Precise lure placement is key. Practice casting and pitching at objects until you can’t do it wrong.
- Try to not let your lure splash hard in the water.
- Don’t forget the bluegill. Bass love them and during their span you can see the divots on your graph that clue you into their location.
- Learn to skip your bait. This is highly effective around docks and trees.
- Utilize ponds with plenty of hungry bass to try new lures and techniques. This will allow you a chance to get to know them and gain confidence.
- Learn to feel. Sometimes bass will pick up your bait and you will miss it because it is so subtle.
- Look for underwater humps. It allows for quick ambush to resting for fish. Use your GoFish Cam and Lowrance sonar to locate and confirm they are holding fish.
- If fishing off shore, don’t stop if there are no fish on your graph.
- Cast beyond your target and retrieve through it. This will help avoid spooking your prey off its hangout. This is also the best way to cast when using something a little larger on your line like a GoFish Cam.
- Fish along your target depth zone. Bass normally hold around a certain level and when you locate them, keep your bait in the target zone.
- Don’t forget the first aid kit. You will get hooked. Safety first.
- Invest in a lure retriever. If you are fishing correctly, you will get hung up, and let's face it, fishing is expensive. If using something more pricey on your line like a GoFish Cam, connect the camera to a heavier braided test line and a less lbs monofilament leader line to avoid losing the camera on hangups.
- Look for natural and man made funnels that force a fish to travel a specific path.
- Stop your bait. Especially when using a swim jig or crankbait. That sudden pause can trigger a reaction strike.
- Avoid the high pressured fish when possible and seek lake locations that are harder to get to and that other anglers won’t try.
- Bass are most active between dusk and dawn and through the night because they can see better than their prey.
- Boat positioning is very important for successful fishing. Do not crowd the fish, and always be mindful of your angle and future casts.
- If you are not catching fish, move to somewhere else.
Go get’em cowboy! I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and there is more to come.