When I first started to fish for Salmon and Steelhead I was always looking for the easiest way to catch fish. This might be the reason you clicked this link. I would get online a few days before I headed up north and asked which rivers had the most fish in it. Then I rushed to that location only to get skunked. It took me almost 5 years to catch my first steelhead. For most of those years, I was on my own. It also didn’t help that I was fishing one of the toughest fisheries in the state as my home river; the mighty Clinton river. I fished hard as a teenager, 2 to 3 days a week. If I could get a ride to the river I would go more. I did have a day where the fish were biting everything and I managed to hook 3 but they got off. Then I went another 2 years of no hook ups. In this blog, I will be sharing 3 tips that will help you catch more fish guaranteed. It won’t matter if it’s a warm-water species or cold-water species.
When most fishermen want to catch fish they want to skip the learning process and go right to catching. Most will go online and ask where they can catch fish this weekend without ever learning the proper way to fish. They will even mention not going if the rivers are not full. Then they go where they are told to do so and never catch a fish and wonder why. If you want to skip the learning part and go straight to catching fish, I suggest you hire a guide (like me). This is also a great way to learn how to fish correctly right away. However, if you’re like me, and the reason you are reading this blog, you probably want to learn how to get bites and catch more fish. This blog will not be about my secrets or the bait that you see on TV that guarantee you more fish(sorry). It will contain the 3 tips that most don’t think about when pursuing their fish of choice.
Towards the end of those 5 years of steelheading I had a friend who we called “Shoeman” tell me on the river “Dan, you need to put down your fishing rod and watch what the people are doing who are catching fish.” This probably didn’t sink into my teenage brain for a long time until one day I was not catching salmon on a day where I thought I should be many years later. A buddy of mine next to me was rocking the salmon. I started asking questions and picking his rig apart. It turned out he was using fluorocarbon line as a leader and I wasn’t. I bummed a leader from him and it was game on for me. If I would have paid more attention to other when I was younger I might have caught a lot more fish.
Which bring me to my next tip, rigging. Have you ever heard the saying “10% of the fisherman catch 90% of the fish?” If you don’t know proper rigging, a river or lake full of fish won’t help you. This includes all types of fisherman whether you’re a pinballer, a fly guy, a bottom bouncer and everything in between. Attention to detail can be very critical at times. Rigging is continually changing due to rivers/lake and weather conditions. The 10% of fisherman know when to adapt to these conditions. If you really want to be a better fisherman, know when to switch rigging or technique. Sometime fishing hardware is better then other technique and visa versa. Every technique of fishing has its times when it will outperform another technique. Having other fisherman around who are catching fish can clue you into which techniques/rigs to use. No matter how great of a fisherman we are, we can always learn from others to adjust.
If you pay attention to others and learn the rigging/technique you will eventually be a much better fisherman. It won’t happen overnight. Eventually, it will come together for you and your fish numbers will go up. This will help you mold into a better fisherman, which will increase the next tip.
The last tip is confidence. Learn what techniques work the best for you and master it. Study everything you can about it and then put in a lot of hours on the water figuring it out. Eventually, you will become confident with that technique and catch more fish. Use what works best for you and don’t let anyone downplay the way you choose to fish. Just like everything else in our lives confidence plays a huge role in fishing. Pay attention to your confidence level next time you are out fishing. If you are catching fish your probably feel pretty good. If you have been fishing for a couple hours and you haven’t been bit your confidence is probably pretty low and might be sinking as the trip progresses. It’s crazy how your confidence level will play a huge role on your attitude and your day. Try to enjoy being on the water whether or not you are catching fish.
After 5 years I finally caught my first steelhead aboard a boat known as the G-raft owned by a guy named Dan Johnson (aka Spanky). Then my buddy Shoeman took me on his boat the next day where we doubled on Steelhead. After that, I went awhile without catching a steelhead again. Then one spring day it clicked and I started to catch a few by putting the missing pieces together. The 3 tips below really helped put the pieces together.
1. Watch others and pay attention
2. Know your rigging/technique
3. Have confidence in the way you fish
By learning these 3 tips, it will help mold you into a better fisherman all around. Over time, you will know when to go, where to go and why to go. Do I still get skunked from time to time? You betcha! But thanks to years of experience I have learned these 3 tips above to help me stay in the game and get skunked less. I can also apply this to fishing for other species. Luckily I also have a great group of guys to fish with and learn from. I hope this blog will help you catch more fish.
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*Title Picture: Photo Cred: Rob Barnes