important is presentation?
The importance of presentation stuck in my mind as a fishing buddy
mentioned it as we sat around a campfire. It seems to go without saying
that presentation is what successful flats fishing is all about. Gently
placing a select bait or lure in the zone a predatory game fish will
be drawn to it. The enticement increased by the action the angler
imparts to the offering. Natural, non-threatening, realistic action
that will make the target fish take the bait, hook and all.
Certainly this is a big part of what fishing is about. That being
the case we should all be practicing our presentation. Making our
offering irresistible. Is presentation the most important tool for
the angler. For this article please assume that a having all the best
skills is the goal. Along the way to acquiring the skills though what
should the anger do?
So if presentation is not the most important what is? Maybe the most
important skill for the angler to develop is to find fish. If you
think about this just a bit you can see how important locating fish
can be. It does not matter how much you finesse the equipment and
the terminal tackle if no fish is available to notice it. This sounds
simplistic and maybe goes without saying. Still, my first hurdle in
improving my fishing success was knowing where to fish. This is of
course an age old question asked by any prospective angler. As you
pass leaving the water, those coming in will usually ask where you
were fishing. They will also ask what you caught your fish on assuming
you did catch fish.
Asking is one way of locating fish. It is not always productive as
fishing spots tent to be a little secretive. You will find many anglers
though who are willing to share some knowledge about local fishing
spots. This can be your best source. I happened by a man fishing off
his dock and we struck up a conversation. He told me that near his
dock and around a bend of this tidal creek would be some excellent
chances for snook if I were to be there at dead low tide. I fished
several spots and made sure to return later in the day as the tide
was at the lowest and had one of the best snook catches ever.
Snook can be (not always) easier to pinpoint as some of the habitat
that they frequent is clearly visible. Shallows with structure or
grasses for crashing bait fish that are forced out in the open as
tides fall. If an angler works mangrove edges, grass or reed points,
downed trees and shallow creek inflows there is a chance of finding
a snook. Don't forget bridges on the shadow line at night.
When an angler sets out to fish the flats whether in a skiff, paddle
craft or wading it is easy to identify mangrove islands, exposed oyster
beds and cuts. But looking out over an expanse of water there may
be few clues on all the water between. Where are the fish located
in all that water?
Finding reds and trout
That was a question on my mind as I looked for reds and trout. It
is easy to look across a flat and be overwhelmed. There is no guarantee
that fish can be found but having some ideas about where to look will
improve your chances. There are subtle changes to look for. They are
visible at different stages of the tide. At low tide you can identify
sandy potholes, shallow grass flats, deep holes and cuts that provide
access for predators. At high tide you will find shallow lagoons or
marshes that are open to game fish seeking a meal. During tide changes
you will see current patterns that can carry bait into the mouths
of waiting fish.
One of the anglers I have learned the most from has proven to me that
one of the best ways to find fish on the flats and learn a body of
water is to wade it. His skiff or kayak are used mostly to go to a
flat to get out and wade. Wading allows you to determine the bottom
consistency, water temperature, the subtle changes in water depth
and current flow. You are also working the water more thoroughly as
you wade through compared to drifting faster. While you can use a
trolling motor, poll or paddle to move your boat (powered or paddle)
you are more precise when wading. You know exactly where you are when
you feel that bump and can get a cast back in exactly the same area.
It is important to note that wading has certain risks. You should
wear proper foot protection for the area. Sandals are not usually
the best foot wear. Be careful of the current and tides if you are
without a support vessel. Be cautious of stingrays (shuffle your feet).
I have no foolproof formula for locating fish. I have not met anyone
who can locate fish on any given body of water. The suggestions I
provide here are basic and there are anglers that have been at it
longer and more methodically than myself who could offer more insight.
I know that fishing is more fun (a little anyway) when you catch fish.
There are skills I can not improve without actually finding fish.
I can tell more about my presentation if there are fish to reject
my offering than just retrieving in a swimming pool. I have to have
a fish on the line to learn how to play them effectively. There will
always be a learning curve to finding fish even on frequently fished
It would be hard to say that any one aspect of fishing is more important
than another. However, I am willing to say that the without a doubt,
the most important thing to improve your success at fishing is...
go out and do it.
If you have any suggestions on locating fish pass that you want to
share with others send them to me. As well, if you have other fishing
tips, submit them for additions to the new 'Tips
and Tricks' section of the site.
Let me know how what you think.