When a lot of people start fishing they think it's a sport or hobby that simply involves picking up a bag of frozen prawns and a Coke from the local servo, heading down to the closest stretch of water, throwing in a line and waiting for the fish to hook themselves.
In these situations some people will catch fish but probably not to the potential that they could because catching fish is a bit more complicated than simply baiting a hook and putting it in a body of water. Many of the things you need to consider are thoughts you'd probably have if you went to buy a new car or mobile phone. You might ask - "where is a good place to go to buy a Toyota?" Well in the same way that not all car dealers sell Toyotas (eg your local Ford dealer) only certain types of water hold certain types of fish.. "What is a good time for me to go and buy a Toyota?" I hear you ask. well just as you're more likely to buy a car during business hours as opposed to 2am the chances of catching certain fish during their business hours, for example their feeding hours, increases.
This sort of information can take a while to learn because each species has many different variables. Sure some are the same or have very similar characteristics but let's face it, they are all individual fish species so there are going to be differences between them. Some fish feed at different times, some prefer a high tide and some an incoming tide, some prefer fish baits and some prefer maggots and some you'll only find in winter and others in summer. and that's only a few of the variables.
Obviously the best way to pick this information up is to get out there and give it a go - repeatedly. If you pay real attention to your fishing over time you will notice trends in your catch rates which can then be used to trace back to what those variables are - suddenly you realise that you can catch more of this species at that time of the day on this tide with that bait or lure!
At the same time this doesn't mean that fishing needs to be complicated either. Arming yourself with some simple knowledge on what type of fish you're hoping to catch and what the best sort of location is to find them are simple steps in the right direction. Then areas such as baits, tides, rigs and other topics can come into it.
Squid ink on the pavement is a fair indicator of what you might be able to fish for in this stretch of water
There are a couple of simple ways to fast-track your knowledge of fishing and while it won't outdo hands on experience, they are valuable to keep in mind.
SCOUT WHEN YOU'RE OUT
Whenever you're near the water never waste an opportunity to look around for tell-tale pieces of information that can tell you something about the area you're near. Finding pieces of information can give you clues as to whether you are in a reasonable spot and what people have caught there previously. It's amazing how much you can tell about a spot by the garbage that people leave around. Fish frames, hook sizes, bait packets, lure tags and other junk that shouldn't be left lying around are all clues that can help you know more about a spot - and, unfortunately, the people that fish it.
It's not only when you're fishing that you can find this type of information either. You can actually scout fishing spots AND earn brownie points with your better half at the same time. Is such a thing possible you say? The way to do it is simple - take them out for dinner and organise it somewhere near the water where you have read about recent fishing action. If it's on the beach get there while the sun is still up to help you to get a feel for any gutters that may be around or what time people are coming to fish there. If it's by the river then pre-meal and post-meal walks along the river's edge offer you the chance to check sections of water - what is the depth like, is there too much weed, is there any structure, where are the sand spots I hear people are catching whiting, where are those people fishing and what are they catching - and yes I do love walking in the moonlight with you babe.
Reconnaissance missions whenever you're near the water are a great way to build up your knowledge about what is caught where.
FISH AROUND ONLINE
There is enough fishing related information online to keep you informed for ten lifetimes. Articles like this can help but online forums are one of the real winners in providing information that is current and relevant to your part of the world. These all have hints and tips, details of what is biting, debates on topics ranging from knot selection to prices of fishing tackle and more.
Don't disregard what the local paper has to say - but don't take it as doctrine. Use it as a guide rather than a bible.
All forums have a search function - use this to search for key words regarding your topic before you ask a question. It's quite likely your question has been asked many times before, especially if it's asking for advice on basic topics. The more frequently it has been asked the less likely people are to respond and give you pointers so searching through previous posts will help you find that information that people have already explained.
If you do decide to join the forum and start asking questions some good advice is to hit them regularly for a while before posting any questions. Get a feel for how they work, check the search to see if your question has been asked before, get a feel for the way people react to certain types of question and when you've done that and you feel like a bit more of a local, ask your question.
As was stated earlier in this article though, nothing beats hands on experience, so learn up, but get out as much as you can, put a line in the water, and start the learning experience.
This article was brought to you by Lemax rods - Love my Lemax