Sport Fishing – An Addiction. Part I
Local ‘afishionado’ Rob Naysmith, imparts some priceless fishing knowledge. Learn all the tips and tricks guaranteed to improve your angling abilities and make sure to catch his tidbits of wisdom in future editions of Leisure Boating
The more you understand about the art of angling, the more fish you will catch and the more you will want to discover, which leads to more fish. Angling is a never ending journey in the pursuit of that dream fish, driven by the escalating desire to increasingly outwit an unseen adversary in their own environment on their terms. And you thought it was the fish that got hooked…
Through this series of articles I will hopefully be able to inspire your enthusiasm and set you on the road to becoming a better angler. I’ll pass on most of what I’ve been privileged to learn from some of the best anglers of my time as well as my own experiences and learning. All I ask is that you grow this knowledge and pass it on to others. Look, Learn, Practise and Prepare: It is all too often heard how lucky an angler is, and one has to eventually ask the question, is it really luck? Or more realistically, has the angler developed a skill that others can’t see. Sure there has to be an element of luck involved when one works with nature but this ‘luck’ is usually brought about through the knowledge of how to work within the moment and turn a sometimes difficult situation into an advantage.
A consistently lucky angler has worked hard and made a concerted effort to absorb knowledge through experience and through this, is able to make the most out of every opportunity. The majority of anglers are initially encouraged to “give it a bash” by someone who has already been hooked for years and reached a certain level of competency. Some anglers have the opportunity to start off fishing with very competent anglers and enjoy good catches, but when they finally venture out on their own, they find it difficult to consistently catch fish – if any at all.
What usually happens is that they have relied on the expertise of their tutor and, apart from learning some of the fighting and landing techniques, the fundamentals have been overlooked. Those fundamentals, in simple terms, are why some things work and others do not, knowing what makes the fish tick and how to get this knowledge to work in your favour.
The art of catching fish requires the ability to ‘think like a fish’, with an intimate understanding of what is happening in their environment under the water. The quickest way of achieving this is to note down and remember what is going on around you while you learn from other anglers – then practise what you have learned. A dedicated angler, however competent they may be, will never stop learning – even from what the inexperienced angler does in ignorance.
Most anglers are born braggers and few hesitate to tell you how many fish they caught, in fact if you listen carefully and ask the right questions, you can learn a little something from almost anyone who puts a line in the water. Being observant and noting what lures, baits or techniques other anglers are using or how they use them, helps build up information in your own database. I refer to this angling technique as “stealing with your eyes”. There is absolutely no harm in asking an angler why he did something, this shows your interest in learning and, knowing that you have already noted the “trick”, will usually follow with a complex explanation. Remember, each day is a new day and what worked today may or may not work tomorrow – experiment from the basics upwards and be observant.
Read as many books, magazines and articles about the sport as possible, even if they do not contain information relevant to your area or fish species. Such articles will give ideas that could be adapted to your conditions, or leave a little seed of information that increases your understanding of different fish species or techniques. A lucky angler is also a prepared angler. The better prepared you are the greater your chances of seizing an opportunity when it arises. For example, having a spinning rod prepared at all times could bring you a Yellowtail out of a passing school while you are catching reef fish, or a school of Tuna to your boat after a troll strike, or even having a spare trace will help in getting bait back in the water quickly after being cut off on the rocks. Never leave anything for later, prepare your boat or vehicle and tackle before you leave home, re-rig a line as soon as possible after a break-off or sharpen that hook if it goes dull. It is far more comfortable to tie your lines and smarten your tackle in the comfort of your home than out on a rolling sea or on a windy beach.
An angler can be judged on the condition of his tackle box. A neat, clean, well laid out box means the angler knows what he has available, where to find it in a hurry and not have to clean off rust or wash a lure. This reaction time is better used in tying a secure knot or making an accurate cast. One of the most important tasks of an angler is the ability to prepare with confidence. I will cover tackle preparation and selection in the next article, but for this month you should read up on the different knots used for your specific lines, their respective uses and holding strengths. Try tying these knots and test their strengths and durability, then select a style for each application and concentrate on learning these. Practise the knots until you can tie them quickly, even in the dark, and still get the lay of the coils correct. It is not a good idea to try a new knot while fishing without testing it first. I personally only use three or four knots regularly, although I know many others, because I have grown to trust them above all others.
The more you understand the art of angling, the more fish you will catch but always remember, the life of a fish is in your hands – don’t waste it. Release what you don’t need or can’t use.
Things to start now:
Keep a notebook of each fishing trip, whether you catch or not. Detail the date, area fished, time of high and low tides, past two day’s and prevailing weather conditions, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, water temperature and colour, sea conditions including current direction and speed, baits/ lures used, times of fish capture and type, size and stomach contents of your fish. Also note what is happening around you, such as the types of sea birds, current and weed lines, etc.
If you have access to a computer you may want to start a database that will become extremely useful as the information grows. Remember to also enter those outings where you do not catch fish, they are just as important.