25 May How to fish – find them first.
When you visit a fishing spot for the first time it can be a real challenge working out where to put you’re bait.
Most beginners cast out into the middle of the water and hope the fish are there…and often they’re not.
Because fish always have a reason for being where they are: food, safety, comfort or other fish (safety in numbers or the attraction of breeding season).
When I stated fishing I cast into the middle ‘cos I thought it was deep water and that’s where fish live…and sometimes I caught fish….but often I didn’t…
…I hadn’t worked out why they would want to be there and if they weren’t there…where they would be.
Then I started fishing with successful anglers and I learned to recognise fish holding spots…and while this is can be a bit complicated at times there are some real simple basics that anyone can follow.
The first thing fish need is safety so that’s a good place to start….if the fish needed to hide where would it be?
Look for anything that offers protection from predators above and in the water…
…some or the things that can do this are rocks, branches, logs, weeds, and rubbish of all sorts (I know a sunken car body in the Goulburn River that holds big cod).
These things will provide a place to hide….and they don’t need to be completely covered to feel safe…a tree stump, pylon, or rock will be something they can lie next to and feel comfortable!
If you can see this stuff then it makes the job easy.
Cast your bait as close as you can without snagging and you have a chance of getting a bite….even if there’s no fish there right now….a good hiding spot won’t stay vacant for long.
Anything on the bank or near the bank that offers cover has potential to hold fish.
Over hanging branches, weed or anything man made like a jetty, moored boat or even a collection of floating rubbish will offer protection ….and maybe fish…
…but what happens if you turn up to a spot that has no “fishy” features, no obvious place for fish to hide?
Then you test the bottom!
All you have to do is cast out and let your rod do the talking!
I was taught this method years ago and use it every time I fish a new spot.
The cheapest thing to do is keep a collection of old nuts and bolts and use these as weights to cast out…
…if they get snagged it doesn’t matter if you lose them….it saves on terminal tackle.
The way to test the bottom properly is to cast out a number of times at different angles so you cover a lot of the water in front of you.
When you cast out – let the weight hit bottom…when the line goes slack you know it’s landed.
Hold your rod high and slowly reel in.
If your rod tip bounces around you’re probably on gravel or a solid base.
If it is a bit hard to pull then it could be on mud.
If it is hard to pull then comes free then gets hard to pull again it could be in weed…and you’ll usually find your weight comes back covered in weed.
If you get stuck hard you’re in some sort of snag…and there’s a way to get out of this…
Try loosening your line and walk to your left then to your right and try to wind in each time.
Get as far left and right as you can so you make the angle to the snag as deep as possible….you’re trying to work out how big the snag is.
If it’s a rock, log or small branch your line might come free.
If there is a pile of stuff you probably wont get out…
…so you know there’s a snag there and you have an idea of how big it might be.
Keep casting and fan out your casts to cover all the water in front of you. This gives you a mental picture of the cover in the water and where fish might hide…..
…so when you start fishing you’ll want to cast close to the snags to draw the fish out….
…but not into the snags so you lose your tackle!
While you’re casting make sure you count down, in seconds how long it takes for the weight to land.
The longer the count – the deeper the water….
…and this will really help work out any deeper holes or spots where food might gather….if you find one of these near some snag cover then you could be on a winner.
The next thing to do is look at fast and slow moving water.
Fish don’t like too much exercise ( like my brother-in-law) so they will hold in the slow water until they have to chase food.
If you find the line between fast and slow water, this is where food will drop out of the current, and fish could be waiting there.
Any deep spots are good fish holding areas…in the heat of the day, when it’s bright and sunny, fish will stay in these spots for cover.
If the river or lake is shallow then any deep spots are a good start… especially if there’s not many.
Small creeks are often like this. There are limited hiding spots so the fish look for these…
…and when there’s competition for these spots it’ll be the big fish that win so don’t be surprised if you hook a big fish in a deep hole in a shallow water!
In flowing water…. places like water falls and bubbling water carry more oxygen than the surrounding water. Fish like this…
…so, fish the base of a waterfall, water splashing over rocks or any areas with a bit of turbulence…fish will be waiting for food!
Fast water that flows into deeper holes often has fish at the start and finish of the hole…fish have learned that water slows as it gets deeper and the food it’s carrying drops – so they wait for a feed.
This also happens in the surf… the beach is never flat, there are gutters and holes along most beaches.. get your bait in these and you have the best chance of a hookup…
… I have caught salmon that had come in to chase mullet in waist deep gutters a few metres from shore!
The bend in a river can also be your target.
The water on the outside of the bend is usually deeper and during flood and when it flows fast it cuts into the bank. This makes a bit of a hole under the bank where fish will hide.
It’s always worth a cast to areas like this and if there’s a bit of extra cover from overhead branches or rocks then it could be a “hot spot”.
So learn to think like a fish – where would you hide, where is the food…answer these questions and you’ll be hooking into more fish than ever before!