Try New Techniques
Don’t be scared to mix it up and throw baits you normally wouldn’t. It’s okay to branch out and try something new. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut and do the same thing every time we go out. How can we expect different results if we are not changing it up? I always experiment and I’m never shy about researching new techniques. On any good lake, fish see similar baits often, so it makes sense to introduce a relatively new technique with hopes that fish have yet to be educated on it. It would be one thing if we didn’t practice catch and release. But since we do, fish learn, and they do so quickly.
I never stay in one place for too long. I’m always moving around and trying to seek out more productive water. Lots of fisherman have areas they like to fish regularly. That’s okay, but seasonality should dictate where you fish, not just past history and prior success. Fish are constantly on the move; they have fins after all. So let’s cover water and follow them rather than miss out on an opportunity.
Look for Life
I always look for birds. That’s the number one shoreline predator I’m interested in. Have you ever seen a big blue heron? It takes a lot of minnows and bait fish to feed this large of a bird. The blue heron is really the pinnacle of what it means to be an apex predator. He is streamlined and well equipped with a large beak that helps him hunt more effectively. I’m no genius, but if I see one of these birds, I stop and fish.
When I’m fishing, I’m always looking for bait fish. These go hand and hand with the blue heron. You generally expect to find one nearby the other. When I’m casting or operating the trolling motor, I’m constantly surveying the water in front of me for signs of life. The more minnows I see, the more likely it is that a bass will be nearby. If the water is too still and everything is quiet with no activity, that’s generally not a good sign. In this case, I’ll search more a more productive area. Where there’s food, there’s game fish. Bass have to eat constantly, so I just follow the food to find them.
Watch Other Anglers
It’s a good idea to pay attention to the other boats on the lake. Specifically, watch for the fishing boats and try to establish a visual pattern of the areas that they frequent. Many of these guys have been fishing the lake for a long time and you can learn a lot just by watching what they do. Fish tend to visit the same areas at some point during the year, it really just depends on seasonality. So pay attention and see how things change from month to month. I will say however, that just because someone is in an expensive bass boat, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. I’m almost more afraid of the guy who has a low end boat because chances are, he spends all his money on fuel, equipment, and tournament entry fees. But at the same time, I don’t pay all that much attention to the homely looking guy out there, because he may not be all that into fishing and probably just wants to get out on the water to catfish, crappie fish, or whatever else he does. So the safe bet is somewhere in the middle unless you see a boat with sponsors all over it. If it’s not a guy promoting his own small business, it’s likely some sort of pro.
Fish Deep Water
The only time I fish shallow on a lake like Travis, is during the spawn. And even then, shallow is a relative term. I mostly fish shallow water near deep water, even in the Spring time. In clear water, light penetrates deep into the water and so things grow further down in the water column. This means plankton has an opportunity to proliferate and of course the bait fish eat the plankton. Generally the clearer the water, the deeper fish can live. In a murky lake or way up river, the light can’t penetrate as deep so the fish tend to live shallower year around. Big fish want quick access to deep water because it holds oxygen and creek channel bends contain current. Current is like a conveyor belt for food and of course oxygen is critical in metabolism. The bigger the fish, the more metabolic needs. So, ideally you should be close to these ingredients that support life.
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