You are a Fisherman … or want to become one … You want to go out on the water and catch musky, pike, bass … what’s the most important thing you should or shouldn’t do.
This is a text for you guys fishing for Musky, Pike, Bass, Walleye or any other predator fish with artificial baits, but with some small modifications, it is easily applicable to other fishing methods. Also, this text is meant for people with a lot of experience who want to get confirmation of their own opinion, for people with little experience who need some guidance, or for people simply wanting to hear new opinion and maybe fresh approach. Let’s get going!
To begin with, I will try to break the task down into a simple equation because everything in life is mathematics. So those who did not pay attention in school and had poor math grades will now be in trouble. Hmmm, I’m kidding, by that logic I would hardly ever catch any fish 😀
Here it is:
FISH + LURE + PRESENTATION = CATCH
FISH – FIND THE FISH
So the first and foremost thing about catching fish is to be on the water that has the species you are trying to catch at the time while you are there. Hmmm, that’s a dump tip, you could say :D. But from my long fishing experience I witnessed a situation, many times, where someone will sit for hours at a “good fishing spot” trying to catch one type of fish when that type is not present. I’ll try to give you a few simple examples that lead to this. Let’s say, you went to a certain spot and had success in the past few days, not just you, but everyone around you, but today nothing is happening, not a single hit, not you, not anyone else around you…. You start thinking that fish will not eat today. But you did not pay attention that the water level dropped significantly and that it is shallower then yesterday, so the fish retreated much farther from the shore, or it suddenly became colder therefore fish retreated deeper, or the water level went up and the water is now murky because it carried loads of sludge etc etc.
FISH – TIP
Do not fish at any given spot, just waving around with a rod and a lure on it, find a spot that is active today. When you’re out and you’re hungry, you don’t go looking for food in the park, at the parking lot, you go to McDonald’s or some other fast food restaurant.
So you need to find a place where there are predators, for those with less experience it is preferable a place where fish feeds intensively or in other words you are looking for “fish diner”, their fast food restaurant. It is often very easy to spot the “Diner” by the whirly water surface showing a fish chasing its prey, splashes all over, and small fish popping out of the water every now and then to save their heads and tails.
However, as in everything in life, there are gradations here as well, and depending on your skills set and experience, the fishing spot will be easier or harder to find. I suggested that you look for McDonald’s, a spot where the fish feeds intensely, as that is a place where you will find fish, however, from my experience at such places where everything is bursting with small fish and predators coming and going chasing a prey, usually smaller pieces are caught. Trophy sizes are usually lying somewhere in peace and quiet, in ambush. Completely opposite goes for saltwater fishing, but we will cover that in another topic. Trophy musky, bass, walleye, pike will hunt very rarely and will move usually for larger prey. In any case they are large (trophy) because they are clever and less likely to fall for a bait armed with hooks. Finding places like this require a lot more knowledge about the fish we are trying to catch, and above all, a lot of fishing experience. As you gain experience, it will move you from their “dining room” to “living room” and the highlight of the experience is when you know how to find their “bedroom”. If you are at this level, it means that you have mastered the game, you can now fish any time of day regardless if musky, pike, bass or whatever you are fishing is active or passive.
LURES – How to choose the right bait?
The easiest way is to copy from a guy next to you who has just had a huge one, and use the same bait he uses :D. Hmmm, another dump tip :D. Well this advice is certainly the most applicable in practice. This is why successful fishermen often don’t want to say which lure they used to catch big fish. You will also find yourself out on the water with no one else around, and no one to copy from :)… so it is important that you know how to choose the best bait for that given time, water and species. Because every time you go out on the water, it is different and often quite small finesse can be decisive and make the difference between catching a giant or being left empty handed. Unfortunately, choosing the right bait requires a lot of experience, but there are some general guidelines that come to my mind, so I’ll try to pass them on to you.
LURE PICKING TIP
When you find yourself on the water, you find a place where everything is bursting with fish that feeds, pay attention to what the fish is eating. The most common mistake I encounter on the water is that the fisherman immediately reaches for their “lucky” lure and they start waving with it across the water. And when nothing happens after a while, he/she is lead to conclusion that bass, walleye will not be fooled that day. So firstly, look at the prey that predators in front of you are chasing. For example, you are seeing a small fish, a couple of inches in size, note that even large predators will sometimes go after a small school, total mistake would be to take the bait several times the size of the prey and try to score with it. Because your bait is now drastically larger than the rest of the prey and will quickly cause suspicion with predators. Also, if bass, walleye feeds on the small silver fish from the surface, it would be totally wrong to use a bait that mimics the tiny dark fish from the bottom. Not that such a bait will not make some scores, but if you want a massive catch then you have to keep an eye out on bunch of details.
There is a reason why top anglers have piles of different baits (different sizes, weights, colors, shapes, manufacturers).
Sometimes the difference in color shade, the difference in a few grams or the vibration is crucial. And as a fisherman, you just now what you are missing and you know what to look for in your tackle box. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?!
Another tip, if you are at a place where you haven’t been before, if everything is calm and you have no idea what the winning combination might be, start fishing with lures that have lower vibration and more subtle colors, almost transparent. That is normally a winning combination, but if you see that the fish is active and grabs the prey aggressively, choose a bait with bright colors and a strong vibration, bait that is noticeable (firetiger, orange belly perch…) in this given situation, such baits will have better results.
PRESENTATION – GUIDING THE BAIT
How many times have you heard someone tell you that they were fishing with their friends and that they used identical equipment but that one of them had great results and the rest had nothing. The reason is that the hand of this “lucky” man guided the bait so that it looked natural and tempting to predators, while the others made some mistakes that made fish suspicious and did not want to attack their baits. How many times have you had the opportunity to pull a bait and a large pike or musky followed the bait to the boat and then just moved on. This is because your lure and your presentation has caused suspicion, instinct is forcing musky or pike to attack but experience tells it that something is wrong with it. The method of guiding the bait (presentation) is crucial for catching trophy fish. Often, those with more fishing experience and even modest fishing gear will have more hits than those with less experience, and who try to make up for it with expensive gear and expensive baits. In other words, a poorly selected bait with a good presentation can have a better result than a good lure with a poor presentation.
PRESENTATION – TIP
Try to make your bait look as natural as possible at any moment, with its movements (vibration) as close as possible to the natural prey that the predator feeds at that moment. If predator feeds on fish that bursts on the surface and pops out of the water, then your bait should do that as well, I would suggest to choose top water bait that I would pull aggressively. If you are chasing walleye, it likes to ambush from the bottom, lurks the inadvertent fish that misses it by mistake in front of it’s nose, then your bait should move lightly, with gentle short movements just like a fish that rests at the bottom and try not to attract the attention of big and hungry fish.
OK. If you have done everything I have said here and you still caught nothing…. well, that’s fishing and if it was easy, everyone would be catching big ones.