I've heard it said that fishing is just "an excuse to drink beer". If that is your view of fishing then you probably landed at the wrong site. Here at Atko we hold an entirely different view. Every trip to the water is a chance to catch the one we've been dreaming of and to do that you have to be in the right frame of mind. Here's five ways to get there.
One of the surest ways to have a bad outing is to expect a bad outcome. Don't do that! Instead believe that every cast is the one that will land that monster. Even if you make a bad cast, don't give up on it. Think about it, how many times have you went to reel in what you thought was a bad cast and end up pulling it right away from a strike? Yeah..it has happened, hasn't it? Keeping a positive mindset has a huge impact on the actions you take, from the amount of effort you put in to the lure or bait choices. Plus you'll just have waaaaay more fun.
Always pay attention to the details. This is a big one that encompasses quite a bit. From the weather, wind and waves to where you are catching fish, or not catching for that matter. For instance maybe the bite was hot and now its not. Earlier it was cloudy but you realize you just had to put your sunglasses on. Maybe the fish have moved to deeper water, shade from docks or other cover. Another example would be that you are bottom fishing and getting no strikes. You notice every time you pull your line in, the hook is fouled up with grass. Maybe you need a longer leader so your bait won't get buried in the vegetation, or you might need to switch to a Santee Cooper rig. Another scenario could be you are fishing a stream and you notice that all your bites are coming from seams where currents meet, or only from bank undercuts. Now you know where to focus to increase your odds. The bottom line is the difference between a good fisherman and a great one is the ability to make the small adjustments. Being observant is the first step in that.
ALWAYS BE TESTING
Train your mind to think of every cast, presentation or trolling pass as a test. Of course you should already have a game plan before you hit the water, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. Once you are on the water and your plan is in action it will most likely require some modification. This is what I call the "testing and validating" stage. The second you aren't in the action then you need to start modifying your plan. This could be speed of retrieve, the type of bait, trolling speed, depth of your jig, line diameter, or even the part of the lake you are fishing. An example would look like this. You always catch crappie in this spot on an 8 count fall before the retrieve but today nothing. Maybe you need a 6 count or a 10. Or maybe the fish have moved to the shore or a whole new part of the lake. Or maybe you need to change color. Another example could be that you are catfishing a new lake that is known to hold decent fish, but so far no bites. Maybe you need to fish from a float instead of on the bottom. Or possibly the fish are closer to shore than you are used to so you need to cast a line near shore. The point is if something isn't working always be willing to test some sort of variation to see if it makes the difference. You will be surprised sometimes by the small changes that can make a huge difference.
This may seem somewhat contradictory to the last paragraph, but its not. This is where being positive will also play a big role. Sometimes you are already doing everything right and the only thing holding you back is time. Remember you can't catch fish if your line isn't in the water. So don't be too quick to change spots, retie a different bait, or give up altogether. I remember reading about a couple guys catfishing on the river and they sat in the same hole for hours soaking baits with not even a nibble. Then within a few minutes they had two blue cats in the boat over 50lbs. Sometimes you just have to wait for the bite to turn on. So if the action is super slow, and you've already followed the above advice, it might be time to take a deep breath, enjoy the view and relax. The next bite could be just a few minutes away.
I hope these ideas have helped you out and we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Remember we are here to get you ready for that fish encounter of your dreams. If there is anything we can do to help you become a better fisherman don't hesitate to ask!