If you’re a novice with a fishing pole, you’ve likely sat out on the water twiddling your thumbs, drinking beer, dozing off and wondering when in the world you’d finally catch a bite. What you may not know is that your fishing technique is only part of the equation. The real trick is that the best fishing only happens when you find just the right spot.
You don’t need to be Dr. Doolittle or Aquaman to pin down the fishing hotspots, either (although I sure wouldn’t mind having some of those powers). If you’re ordinary like the rest of us, you can still find great fishing locations with a little how-to help.
So, what does it all come down to? You might think of fun buzzwords like stealth, agility, intuition. No my friend, what you need is more basic, although it probably doesn’t hurt to be good at those things either. Going into this, you’ve got to keep a couple of things in mind: the type of fish you’re looking to catch, local weather conditions and the different features a body of water has all play a part when it comes to finding the holy grail of fishing holes.
Decide on a Species
Understanding the type of fish you’ll want to catch is the first step. Whether it’s a beautiful bass or a mighty marlin (not to be confused with the baseball team, which never puts up a fight), keeping the kind of fish you’re after in mind will make it easier to determine a good location.
Find out if your fish of choice prefers water that’s fresh or salty, cool or warm and even the depth it likes to hang out in. You might even look into particular vegetation or structures where your fish likes to hide. Similar to scoring a date with a dream girl, if you know where to find her and what she’s into, you’re that much closer to reeling her in.
Do Your Research
Once you have a particular type of fish in your sights, you’ll need to do some trawling on the ‘net for information on fish behavior. Things like season, temperature and weather patterns can all affect where and how many fish you’ll get biting. Understanding these factors, especially how they affect your target species, will help you narrow down the best locations.
For example, the spring and summer months mean warmer weather, and many fish will move to shallow waters. Summer floods can also expose fish to trees, bushes and other vegetation, giving them great hiding spots and providing you with the perfect location for a catch.
You’ll want to keep in mind that sometimes a good fishing spot is only good for a portion of the year. Believe me, I know the pain of thinking “Finally! I’ve found the perfect spot!” only to discover a couple weeks or even days later that all the fish have high-tailed it out of there.
Turns out, the weather condition may have to be just right to reel them in. But if you can identify the precise conditions that will attract our fishy friends, you’ll be catching ‘em for years to come.
Scope Out the Area
Once you pick out a general fishing location, you’ll want to find a good map. In general, maps can provide you with critical information about the body of water where you’re fishing.
Another great tool is Google Earth, which can show you exactly how a body of water lays, as well as where the deep and shallow areas are. You can even zoom in and find docks, lay downs, vegetation and other structures this way, which will prove to be great spots for finding fish.
If you want something a little more high-tech, this is where your friendly fish finder comes in. Think of using a fish finder as the closest you can get to actually being Aquaman (yes, it’s that important). Overall, a fish finder can give you valuable information such as the water’s temperature and depth, as well as if there are any underwater structures or vegetation.
Most importantly, fish finders can tell you if there are any fish in the water. You know how people say, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”? Well, this is your ticket to finding them. (If only love were that easy!)
If you’re more old school like me though, you might just walk around, get a feel for the area and even take a peek in the water. The point is, you can’t pin down the best spot if you don’t know what’s available. While you don’t need to know the body of water inside and out, the more familiar you are with it, the better luck you’re bound to have.
Search for Structures and Vegetation
You expected me to mention this one again, didn’t you? That’s because structures and vegetation prove to be the best places to find fish. Fish love to use the shade from vegetation and other sources as protection. You can be sure places near trees, bushes, and tall grass or structures will be some of the best fishing holes.
Some species may gather near specific types of structure, whether that is docks, bridges or ledges. So, it’s essential to understand which one your targeted fish prefers. As an example, the bass usually likes to hide under docks and lay downs, while walleye and musk are typically found near ledges. Keep this info in mind when picking a fishing spot to increase your chances of getting a good catch.
Don’t forget about vegetation, either. If you’ve ever heard of the term “chick magnet,” then you’ll understand the effect hydrilla has on bass. When searching for hydrilla, keep your eyes peeled for a leafy pine-like tree.
Hyacinths are another bass favorite. The hyacinth is a free-floating plant with waxy looking leaves that you can spot pretty easily out on the water. Even lily pads provide protection for many fish.
It may seem a little complicated at first, but if you do your homework right, you’ll be able to find the fish no matter where you are. Once you find the right location, you can sit back, relax and cast your worries away. With the best fishing spot on the water, you’ll be catching a bite in no time. If you’re ready to take your new fishing skills on tour, download this guide on the best fishing itineraries.