By Jerry White
This past weekend, I went to my favorite tackle shop to buy a new reel. While I was there, I figured I'd pick up a few new lures too, what the heck. Snook are by far my favorite fish to target here in Florida, and they are a sucker for red and white lures. I already had a few, and now I have one more. But once I got home with 1 reel, and 1 lure, when I attempted to put these things away it was plain to see that I have too much stuff - I had no where to store them - the camels back broke.
Then the light came on, and I realized that it was time for me to practice what I preach. It's time to for me to trim down my arsenal, fish smarter, and get back to the simplicity that brought me to this sport in the first place. Like most of you, I don't have that many opportunities to go fish, so when I go, I want to maximize my efforts.
By scaling down your gear, you soon find that you can get loaded quicker, and you can get on the water much quicker. This simple step just gave you a few extra minutes on the water, and you never know when that could make all the difference in the world.
Rather than taking an armful of rods, rigged for every possible situation, take just your favorite one - one. Take a spare reel (just in case a mechanical disaster strikes), but fight that urge to take an extra rod for it. This will enable you to become proficient with that one piece of gear, probably the most important piece of gear you have. Granted, some rods work better for topwater plugs, some are better for soft plastics on a jig head, but I'm convinced that with some practice you can become pretty deadly and accurate with one rod/reel combo, regardless of what hardware you're throwing.
Having one rod is also handy if you do any sort of "jungle fishing", where you have to scoot up small creek mouths or dodge mangrove branches. You've only got one rod to keep safe. This enables you get to where the fish are quicker. The minutes you save are turned into extra minutes of fishing.
Five Lures/ Match the Hatch:
This is easier than you might think - walk with me a minute. In most cases, the fish we're after are only dining on certain things during certain times of the year. So, in order to "match the hatch" you don't need to take 5 tackle trays, loaded to the max with dozens of choices. If the redfish you're targeting are eating shrimp, then baits that mimic sardines will be out of place, and will most likely be ignored. Now, that sardine bait might get the attention of a snook, so that certainly something to keep in mind when you pick your five lures. It's when you start taking 8-10 lures for every species that you might encounter, for every type of water condition, and every type of cover, and... Well, you get the picture.
By limiting your lures, you start to become proficient at presentation and accurate casting. A tailing redfish won't tolerate a sloppy cast. You may find that certain lures simply don't work for you - it's not a crime. For me, that's a gold spoon. I know anglers that catch plenty on them, repeatedly. But, they simply don't work for me, so I don't use them. I have no confidence in that gold spoon, and to be effective with any lure or bait, you have to have confidence in it.
What's in your tackle box?
Well, here's what's in mine. On the left, 5 lures in a dry box (lures that I have confidence in). On the right, my leader and tools in a waterproof sandwich box. And about that new lure I bought, it's still in the bag. These 2 boxes, my new reel on my favorite rod, and I'm on the water.
Tides/ Moon Phases/ Grass/ Bugs
Estuaries are a lot more complex than you think. Weather, sun, moon, wind, all play key roles in the life cycles of everything living there. If you want to really capitalize on your fishing, then this sometimes boring segment of the sport needs to be consumed and digested.In my part of the world, there are a multitude of books available that show how to catch fish. Fishing turns into catching when you find yourself where the fish are. Finding the fish is almost always the hardest part. But, I stumbled across a great book that describes WHY my target fish do what they do, WHERE they're likely to be doing it, WHEN they're likely to be found at given times of the year, and WHAT they will most likely be eating. It's called "Fisherman's Coast" by Aaron J. Adams, Ph. D. I'm still reading it because it's a pretty scientific look at marine warm-water angling, and I could use more pictures. But, I know the sooner I learn more, I'll catch more. It's that simple. Seek out this information about your fishery - you need to know these things.
We've all seen the ads that urge us to "think like a fish." There's a lot of truth to that. Fish are very basic in that their total thought process involves several basic things. "Where can I get my next meal?" "When will I mate again?" "Where can I cool off or warm up?" "Where can I hide so I don't get eaten?" Study up and provide the answers to these questions, you'll catch more fish.
If you find yourself with the opportunity to get out, but the elements (tides, moon phase, wind, etc.) say stay at home, still go. But, leave the fishing gear at home. A lot can be learned about an area when you're not concentrating so hard on fishing. You'll pay more attention to currents and structure. You'll be more likely to watch the birds, Mother Nature's best fish finder. You'll also be more likely to paddle to new places, and you may be surprised to find some new fishy areas. The exercise won't hurt you either.So scale down, read up, and pay attention while you're out there, and you'll definitely increase your chances of a successful fishing trip.
See you out on the water …
"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after"
~ Henry David Thoreau