Rookies and experienced anglers alike are guilty of making some common mistakes. Avoid these “sins” for a more productive day on the water.
1. Fishing with the crowd
Two or three boats in the same location can quickly attract a pack of anglers. It might have been a hotspot a few minutes ago, but boat traffic will definitely have dispersed the target species.
Try fishing in peripheral areas around the boats to intercept fish, or identify the initial location and return later when other anglers have left and the fish have had a chance to regroup.
Fishing guide, Sebastian Kowalczuk, who also owns Cottage Fishing Adventure, advises anglers to take it a step further. “Try identifying the type of structure the fish are associating with and the forage base. Then find a location similar to this away from the crowd.”
2. Utilizing the “favourite” lure
Every fishing destination seems to offer a lure that is a local favourite. It stands to reason that, given no other choice, fish will be caught on this can’t-miss lure.
To shift the playing field, use the same presentation but switch up the lure. For example, keep trolling, but instead of the local favourite, try a bodybait that will track at the same depth.
3. Avoiding electronics
Even before smart phones and apps, electronics were part of an angler’s arsenal. And to be sure, ability of sonar to identify bottom depths and indicate fish is a game changer.
The display of both fish and lure make flashers your best bet for ice fishing. When it comes to open water, a liquid crystal unit provides a precise visual display.
GPS is critical for identifying locations for future reference, and temperature and speed probes are valuable tools as well.
Once you start using electronics, you’ll likely find fishing without them akin to trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together.
4. Shunning live bait
Most anglers start out using live bait and switch to artificial bait as they gain more experience. Although spoons, bodybaits, and spinners are extremely effective, there are conditions that warrant using live bait.
Fish are lethargic in cold water and in most cases aren’t interested in chasing artificial lures. However, no predator species can resist the prospect of natural, live bait presented in their comfort zone.
5. Overfishing the same location
Anglers who experience success in a specific location tend to keep returning to that spot. There’s nothing wrong with that, but what happens when the action slows down?
Being stubborn doesn’t make you a better angler, but being methodical does.
If you don’t catch fish after a few minutes, try other spots. When fish are caught, add that location into your GPS. Recording a number of proven spots gives you more opportunities for success.
6. Ignoring your hook, line, and knot
Purchase quality, chemically sharpened hooks. Attach hooks to your line using a proven knot such as the Palomar, Improved Clinch, or Uni knot.
Use a fluorocarbon leader to reduce line visibility. Check the line near the knot for abrasions regularly and retie if necessary. A line doesn’t usually break at the knot but at a weakened point above it. Choose a braided line with a small diameter that is abrasion resistant. Alternatively, you can choose high-quality mono for general conditions.
“Anglers willingly spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on boats, rods, reels, and baits, but will cringe when they have to spend a couple of dollars on hooks, snaps, or leaders. Opting to go cheap on terminal tackle will not only belittle the dollars spent on your regular equipment, but will most certainly result in poor trips and missed photo opportunities,” stated Mark Van Beek, marketing manager at Rapala Canada.
7. Going colour blind
Don’t pick a lure colour just because it looks nice. Use orange and chartreuse shades in stained water because they’re visible to fish. When fishing water over 20 feet deep use lures that have UV reflection.
In deeper water or after dark, use fully-charged glow colour finishes that emit light. These lures are typically charged by the sun or an LED light.
Anglers who steer clear of even two or three of these sins will surely see more fishing success.