Fishing is fun, but I sure like catching a whole lot more. Avoid these common pitfalls, and your odds of success will go way up.
TOO FAST OR TOO SLOW: Fishing too long in a spot with no fish is a perfect recipe for a slow day. So is making only a couple of casts in an area with a huge school. In general, I cover a lot of water by fishing with moving baits (like crankbaits, topwaters, swimbaits or spinnerbaits) until I get a bite. Once I get a fish or two in an area, I slow down and work it with slower baits on the bottom, like jigs or soft plastics. Camp there until the action stops, then get moving again to find the next group.
FISHING YOUR FAVORITES: Your mother and your friends might care what you like, but the fish don’t. We all have our favorite baits. Try to think of your lures as tools. You wouldn’t try to eat a bowl of soup with a knife, even if it was your favorite utensil. Just like a spoon works best for soup, different lures work better or worse on different days. There’s no harm in starting with your favorite bait, but if it isn’t working, experiment with others until you find what the fish’s favorite is today.
FISHING IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE: With a few exceptions, fish generally hang out by cover or near a bottom change. The “somewhere” can be a weed bed, a rock pile, a quick dropoff, where the bottom changes from rock to sand, near a dock, or dozens of other places. The next time you fish, whether from a boat or shore, try to make sure you’re always casting to an area that has “something” for a fish to want to be there.
TOO BIG: Great big baits are perfect for big fish when they are really aggressive. Unfortunately, most days the fishing is slow to just OK, and smaller baits work much better in this case. Smaller baits are less threatening to fish, plus they aren’t as obviously fake as a bigger bait. Even with live bait, small hooks miss way less fish than big ones. If you aren’t getting any bites on your lure or if the fish keep stealing your bait … time to downsize.