Finding the edge
27 July 2015
If 20% of the anglers catch 80% of the fish, how do you put yourself in that top 20%?
There’s no single magic answer for that question.
Winners are the grinners who can pull together all the small factors on any given day, which combine to get a result. In saying that, following even just a few of the following will raise your catch rate or the size of the fish captured in a session.
So what techniques need to be followed? Some of them are obvious, some require the dedication that few people have the time and focus for. Much has to do with time on the water and the ability to recognise patterns as cues to where the fish will be.
To be fair, these are not necessary immediately obvious but when you think about them in detail they quickly become so.
The best results and the biggest fish are more than often caught within an hour or two of change of light. Top anglers will have no trouble regularly setting the alarm for silly - o'clock and getting into the strike zone as the sun comes up. This is a great time to be on the water anyway. It's often calmer, and well worth the effort to be fishing those amazing sun rises we get in Aotearoa.
Where are the fish?
One of the common reasons you aren’t catching any fish is because they simply aren’t there. A reliable spot in the past does not make for a reliable one today. Maybe the fish have moved out to deeper water or north to seek winter food supplies. There probably isn’t a single spot, which will hold fish all year round. As the fish move, have you to follow them.
Tides Another more obvious tip is to ensure you are fishing the right tide for the spot. Fish tend to feed in different places as the tide rises and falls.
A good example of this is fishing a harbour or an estuary. The fish will come in with the tide and head to the shallows as the tide rises, looking for food such as shellfish and crabs.
Also pay attention to the channels. These are the highways for the fish moving with the current in and out of the harbour.
If you find yourself on the end of the outgoing tide there is little point targeting the shallows as the fish will have already left to ensure they don’t get stranded. On an outgoing tide wwlook a bit deeper and around structure as this is where you will find fish looking for the morsels in the current to pick off as they flow past.
An organised set up is an example of an organised mind
Fresh is best! Especially when it comes to bait. When visiting your favourite tackle shop ask them for their freshest stock.
If you want the very freshest bait then catch your own. and consider investing in a bait net. Before you launch your vessel of choice, walk out from the beach in an arch dropping the net behind you. Once back on the beach slowly pull it in, you’ll be surprised how many good baits you’ll pick up, including the ultimate candy – piper.
A huge quantity of data is available online. Use it to fill in the gaps in your log and to plan ahead.
I’m not talking fresh out of the packet but more referring to fresh on the market.
Yes, some say they are just trying to sell us something new and you can still catch a feed on the rusty jig you bought ten years ago. I won’t argue with you but instead ask, “Does it work as well as when you first got it?”
Now, I don’t work for a tackle company, nor am I sponsored (I’m open to offers though), but I do believe that lures lose effectiveness over time as the fish grow aware of patterns and what happens when you bite them.
So how do you combat this shyness? Use something new of course. There is a huge range of options on the market with more and more being added every month. Also, when looking at lures and softbaits, don’t be afraid of trying new colours and shapes, as you never know what the fish might take a shine to today.
Stay sharp and wear free
The best fishermen are constantly changing their terminal tackle. They don’t think about how long a 10c hook can last or how many hundred fish can be caught on a $2 jighead.
If you are the guy who fishes all day with the same hook, stop and think how many times it’s bounced on the rocky bottom, how many times you’ve had to pull it out of a snag, or even worse (in a good way) how many huge fish have crushed it in their jaws.
Instead, every time you touch the hook for re-baiting or re-casting check, it and replace if needed. Check jigheads and lure hooks as well. The last thing you want is to drop the fish of the day because you were too tight to replace a dull hook. Check the trace for damage while you are at it.
Following on from acquiring the latest fish catching bling, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks in the packet unless you know how to use it. All lures and softbaits are designed for use in a particular manner. The methods are endless and equally easy.
The NZ Fishing World website is a good place to start your research, as is the local tackle shop. These guys fish with all the new stuff and know how to use it.
As well as nzfishingworld.co.nz, a quick search on Google will turn up tips and techniques from YouTube and a number of great sites. Such research is a great way to fill in an evening before a trip.
By far the biggest gains can be enjoyed by compiling great data on fishing spots at any time of year and in any conditions.
This information is only available to the most dedicated anglers. Yes, you can buy books with fishing spots in them and yes, you can hit the internet and read the fishing reports on forums, you can even talk to the locals - who may or may not be totally truthful in their advice to protect their own favourite fishing spots. But there is nothing that helps more than personal experience, and a recorded history of that experience.