Sometimes it’s not about PBs or snagging a trophy. Sometimes you just want to get into the action and straight up catch some fish. So how can you make sure you spend your fishing trip fighting tight lines instead of watching a bobber that never moves?
For this guest blog Deeper Hero Gary Love from GCL fishing takes you through 5 rules to follow to guarantee you catch:
Rule #1 Location is the key to success
Rule #2 The right presentation will land you more cacthes
Rule #3 Consider the conditions
Rule #4 Timing is everything
Rule #5 Cover lots of water and stay active
Rule #1 Location is the key to success
The truth is some lakes and rivers are just better than others. There is a boatload of information out there on lakes and rivers in your area just waiting for you to search it out – use books, maps and your computer or smart phone.
Here are some simple steps to follow to find the best location to guarantee you land a catch:
Decide what species of fish you want to target.
Look up the best lakes in your area to fish online.
Do a separate search of specific lakes or rivers that look interesting to get more detailed information. Look at some reviews, and listen to other anglers.
Try and get a look at photos or videos of the lakes and rivers. Lakes with good reviews and photos of anglers with nice catches and reports of healthy fish stocks are what you are looking for.
In Canada, Backroad Map Books are fantastic resources of information. As you gain more experience you can explore some of the more remote lakes and rivers. But to guarantee catches getting started, stick to lakes with healthy populations of fish and you will have success. Remember there are many regulations out there for lakes and rivers, some time specific so make sure to check everything out. And a final tip, don’t forget those locations right in town!
In B.C the Kootenay River crosses the road by Canal Flats, in the Columbia Valley. The bridge there is a great place to catch Cutthroat Trout. However, many people drive right by it, oblivious to the amazing fishing location!
In Edmonton the North Saskatchewan River runs right through town, and one great location is down by the Dawson bridge. I have seen some great Sturgeon caught down there; I’ve caught great Walleye and Pike there also. This location right in the city is often overlooked.
Once you have a lake or river located, look for the best spots to try. Features to look for include beaver lodges, sunken or fallen trees, weed-beds, rock piles, patches of lily pads, sudden depth transitions, and feeder creeks. These locations are prime feeding areas for Northern Pike, Bass, Walleye and numerous other species of fish.
Also, be looking for deep sections dropping off from shallow flats. These are great ice fishing locations in winter, and often productive in the open water months. I am always on the look out for deep water coming off the edge of a shallow flat with a nice tall weed bed growing up in it.
A castable sonar like a Deeper will really help you out here in judging if a spot will be productive or not. Make some scans, or even make an underwater contour map to find depth changes.
Then you can review everything in the app or using the lakebook page – it’s a great way to compare possible locations and narrow down your options to the best spots.
Rule Rule #2 The right presentation will land you more catches
Lure and bait selection is another tough topic – there are so many different lures out there it can be overwhelming.
There is an artificial lure out there for every kind of fish species, it’s sorting through all the brands and types that can really make things interesting.
First up, you need to think about color. Here is my rule of thumb for using color sets:
for overcast/cloudy conditions I like fluorescent Chartreuse, Orange, Pink, and Red.
for sunny/bright conditions I like Silver, Gold, White, Green, Yellow, Blue and Purple.
for something flexible for all round fishing I like combos of Chartreuse and Orange (fire tiger), Blue and Silver, and Red and Silver.
For Bass wacky rigged plastic worms are often a hot ticket, and plastic crawfish and worms set up on Texas and Carolina rigs are hot.
For rivers many times you are trying to match whatever is hatching around the river for fly’s and larva, for fly fishermen. Also, a great tactic on rivers is the use of sandbag sinkers and bait, the sandbag sinker will roll and tumble across the river bottom, keeping your bait moving and giving it some action which triggers strikes from Trout and Salmon. Another great option on rivers is the use of Trout spinners.
Baits also vary depending on the species you are going to target. You can use everything from minnows, spot-tail shiners, smelt, herrings, and others, through to live bait. Things like dew worms, salmon eggs, and even marshmallows are options for stocked trout lakes.
Out on the ice
I like to use Smelt and Herring when ice fishing with tip up’s the smell of the real bait can be all you need to get big Pike to munch it. For walleye many anglers will use minnows and jigs to catch them. Suspending jerk baits are also a great lure for Pike, Walleye, Bass and numerous species.
One tip you can use is to mark fish using a castable fish finder. This way you know the fish are there, so if they aren’t biting you know it’s the presentation that’s the problem. You can switch things up instead of wasting time with a presentation that’s not working.
Rule Rule #3 Consider the conditions
The x factor in all of this is the weather – barometric pressure, air and water temperature all play a big role in if you will catch or nor. So, make sure to take notes all season long so you can come back later and review. Look for the patterns of what works best in different conditions – rain, sun, wind, low light, ice – and at different times throughout a season in your area.
Prepared for anything
Make sure to come equipped with enough lures and bait to get you through different conditions and settings. Being prepared to adapt to changing weather can also improve your chances of catching fish consistently.
Weather is the deciding factor in the mood of fish, if you are prepared you will have something to offer the fish no matter what mood they are in. Again, using a fish finder can help you out – if the fish are being finicky but you know they’re down there, change up your presentation and find what works.
Do your homework
Again, at home you can check out a detailed weather forecast (like the one on the Deeper app) to see what the conditions are going to be and then plan accordingly.
Just remember whatever the conditions, give yourself options. You can never have too many options, and the quicker you can adapt to changing weather conditions the better chance you have of guaranteeing you catch.
Rule Rule #4 Timing is everything
I can’t tell you how many times I have run into anglers showing up to a lake at high noon and then asking me “are the fish biting?” right as I am coming in to load my boat on the trailer and leave to another lake.
Move with the times
Be a rooster or an owl
Well, the fish “were” biting, but I know that in the afternoon at that lake they won’t be. There is always a lull in the action at that location. So I will often go to another lake where I know the action is good in the afternoon. The guys who just showed up are going to start off in the lull period and the fishing will be slower. I am always ready to move locations, to different lakes or rivers in a day so I can be at each location for it’s ‘peak’ time.
Many fish species like morning and evening times to hunt for prey, so it’s often best to be a rooster up at dawn or a night owl ready for sunset. Especially that period between 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm can be a bit slower on a lot of lakes and even rivers.
Personally, I’m often out of bed and down at the lake early. Those willing to get up early and are prepared, will get rewarded greatly. Often you will be the only angler on the lake, and the sunrise and sunset are amazing times to be outside at the lake or river.
I have a couple of lakes in Athabasca where I can almost set my watch by the timing of the Walleye. Northern Pike also, I find I catch more fish in the morning and the evening periods than I do in the afternoon. You will find the water on lakes a bit calmer in the morning, and in the evening things are usually more settled during normal days.
pay attention to the timing of the action at different locations and make sure to get your timing right - it can be the difference between a 2-fish day or a 30-fish day. And remember options, options, options. Always have yourself another lake or river to go to if your lake slows down midday.
Rule Rule #5 Cover lots of water and stay active
Lots of the most successful anglers love to cover a lot of water. And they’re always active, whether it’s moving a lot or just thinking a lot about what they’re doing. So stay mobile and active and your chances of catching will increase dramatically.
One technique I get a lot of success from is placing my boat one cast’s distance from the shore. This way you can just get your lure up close to shore, without getting it on shore, and then draw the lure back to the boat. Remember you will be casting at Beaver Lodges, sunken or fallen trees, weed-beds, rock piles, patches of lily pads, sudden depth transitions.
Scouting a location with a castable sonar before hand will help you picking out the spots to target.
Then get your lure in there and get it moving quickly and trigger those strikes. A spinnerbait is a great lure to fish close to shore – they give lots of action and vibration, and the single hook allows you to get in closer to the structure.
Fishing the shoreline down, often I will let the wind push me down a run, or use my trolling motor to keep me lined up with shore. So I slowly work my way along the shoreline. This is a tactic I use on open water in the Spring, Summer and Fall on lakes and rivers. It’s a great way to explore a lake or a river and be in the prime locations to catch fish, as you are always moving and casting at every structure point along shore.
Your situational awareness can greatly maximize your chances of not only catching fish but also locking in on prime locations to visit in winter.
Bass love to hide under boat docks, so don’t overlook them. I’ll bet you can catch a fish right at the boat launch if you’re careful and sneaky. Just drop a wacky rig worm and watch your line – if you see your line moving away, set the hook on that Bass.
While fishing a run I will be logging locations for Ice fishing season and making sure to visit those locations in winter. Some locations are productive all year, and sometimes the best way to find these locations is by fishing and covering water, observing the water and the structure points.
Using GPS functions like the Deeper has - either when ice fishing or from your boat – will give great data on which spots to keep coming back to.