One thing I notice among anglers who seem do very well in general is that they all visit the waters they are fishing as much as they can in-between sessions. It’s not rocket science; it stands to reason that the more you visit the water, the more you can see what’s going on, which, in turn, allows you to see what factors are affecting the water. The more little things you notice, the better you are able to develop a strategy for when you do fish the water.
I know many anglers who never keep in touch with the waters they fish and, therefore, are effectively fishing blind when they arrive. When you arrive at a water cold it can then be quite a task to try to figure out the best place to start your session if there are no obvious signs of fish showing.
It’s rare that I go to fish a water without having some sort of idea of what’s going on. I always try to visit waters on a regular basis; have a walk around, see what I can spot, and then move on. It’s not that I have to take a day out each week to go around them one by one, it’s just little and often visits that take twenty minutes here, half an hour there, and which are usually linked onto other jobs I’m doing so they don’t directly take out large amounts of my time.
I’ve only been fishing one water over the last few months, but will soon be switching to another and so have already started making regular visits, once or twice a week, just to start getting a feel for what’s going on, and the closer it comes to the time I switch, the more I’ll be visiting. Although it’s a water I’ve fished many times before, I never take previous knowledge for granted – it’s all too easy to drop on and do the same thing each time and before you know it you’ve become predictable.
Don’t get me wrong, if my reconnaissance trips reaffirm past approaches, methods and locations still look to be the best, then I’ll be straight on them, but things may well have changed. Even on waters you think you know like the back of your hand, minute changes year on year can have a big effect on the fish; where they congregate, where they feed, where they feel safe, so you always need to keep in touch.
Many anglers I’ve fished with look but don’t see, if you know what I mean. For example, one small syndicate water I fish has been filling up with silt for many years, which has a massive impact in one area of the lake. As the areas of silt deposits change year on year, the fish change their habits accordingly. It’s mineral silt that runs in and it’s very firm, so each spring I would be out there (safely!) in the water seeing what’s changed with all the winter run-in; feeling for firm spots, bumps lumps and whatever else. Once I’d logged all the changes and committed them to memory, I’d then be down every few days; just five minutes here or ten minutes there at different times of day, just to see which of these spots the carp were preferring and which they were seeming to stay away from.
To my knowledge, there was only one other angler doing this, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we were the ones catching most of the fish – the rest just carried on doing what they’d always done, often fishing areas of the lake out of past habit, and wondering why they were not catching anything.
I appreciate many anglers live a distance away from the waters they are fishing, and in these situations it can be difficult to keep in touch properly. What you have to remember, though, is that somebody fishing the lake who lives nearby will be visiting it on a regular basis – and they would be the first people I’d be looking to strike up a relationship with.
Many times in the past I’ve got to know anglers living close to waters that were too far away for me to visit on a regular basis, so by getting to know them, I was able to keep in touch using their observations and findings as which gave useful pointers for my own fishing, so that even though I’d not been on the water for a while, when I got there I knew where they had been moving during the days leading up to my visit.
If you’re hoping to get amongst the fish in your chosen water this spring, then now’s a great time to start getting out and having a look round, are striking up a relationship with somebody who can. Once you get out there you might be surprised at what you spot!