As I mentioned in my previous article, taking a common sense approach to fishing is unfortunately not so common! Whether you are fishing for fall run salmon, a trophy summer bass or a white marlin there are three things you have to do in remember to be more successful; Preparation, Presentation and Penetration. If you do these things I promise you will catch more fish.
Preparation covers a range of tasks, everything from researching your fish species, checking the weather, making sure all of your gear is in order and even making sure you have the right tackle for the given conditions, species and time of year. Let’s use the fall salmon run as an example. The first thing you want to do is get a better understanding of your prey (click here to learn about migratory salmon and steelhead); Do you know their general habits? What they eat? What is the best time and date to fish for them (here is a great fish calendar that has general activity charts to improve your chances)? What rivers are most active and hold the best fish? Consider using local forums, tackle shops and talk with other fisherman to get a fishing report. The Second thing would be to evaluate the weather. The changes in condition can often be the difference between one of your best days on the water, or just a good day away from the office! Finally, check your gear to make sure it is in top shape. This includes your line, your leaders (always have backups), your tackle, your wadders, boots and jackets – make sure its all with you and in good working order. The last think you want to do is get out there and realize, “Oops, I forgot my fly box”. One last thing, bring a camera so we don’t have to listen to the fish story of “it was THIS BIG…” In a future article we will dive deeper in to the preparation as it is the most important part of being successful on the water (almost as important as luck).
Presentation is the execution of your preparation. Its applying the knowledge you gained during your preparation of where, what and how to fish. Know I forgot to mention practice, but we will save that for a future article. Your presentation will take years to develop and will constantly change, but use the following tips to make the most of your current skills:
- Observe the water and look for signs of fish, they could be rising, feeding, migrating or just holding behind a boulder
- Take note of their activity level and us a presentation that suits the situation. For example if a fall salmon is on cleaning small debris to make a “spawning bed”, use something bright, large and that will get their attention – Fish don’t have hands so they are bound to use their mouth to move the object and there’s your HOOK UP!
Finally we have penetration, which if you have done the previous two steps correctly should be a breeze. Once you have located the fish and selected the correct presentation all you have to do is set the hook. For fall salmon and steelhead you have to keep your light tight and be aware of any subtle movement, the do not typically smash your bait like a summer time bass or aggressive brown trouth. Pay close attention to your line and don’t be afraid to loose some flies along the bottom or to some cover. Migratory fish are harder to hook up, but well worth the wait. The only way to increase your odds is to spend more time on the water.
Simply put if you want to catch more fish make it a priority to spend the time preparing for your adventure, have patience and select the right presentation and you will find more fish on the end of your line.
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