Cast, Retrieve & Believe!
There are many different aspects that can be determining factors in your success with rod and reel in hand. This is especially true when it comes to catching fish on artificial lures. The aspects that are normally looked at, and that get written about in depth are the external factors.
When we look at external factors there are many things that can play a role in success:
Weather: Wind, water temperature and barometric pressure. Structure: Drop offs, points, old roads, etc. Cover: Timber, lily pads, boulders, etc. Target species: Fish behavior, feeding patterns and prey. Season: Pre-spawn, spawn and post-spawn. Time of day: Early morning, midday and late afternoon.
However, in this article I will be discussing some of the factors that are more controllable to the angler. I have divided these factors into physical attributes, mental attributes, and skill related components of fishing.
The physical attributes that can play a role in the success of an art-lure angler:
Most anglers will agree that the lower back takes a lot of strain during a day on the water, especially if you are operating a foot control trolling motor. People are not designed to keep a specific position for a prolonged period of time, but this is exactly what happens when you are focused on the job at hand, which is to get fish in the live-well. A painful lower back can be very debilitating and can limit your range of motion and affect your powers of concentration on the water. Therefore make sure you look after your lower back by doing “core” muscle exercises, and focusing on a correct body posture. The primary muscle that needs to be activated to support the lower back is the transverse abdominal muscle. This muscle functions like a natural back brace when activated, and is essential to lower back health. The transverse abdominal helps to compress the ribs and viscera, providing thoracic and pelvic stability.
Local muscle endurance
Lure fishing requires the repetition of the action of casting and retrieving. This action is even more strenuous when popping with bigger lures in the ocean. Therefore the muscles involved in this specific action can get tired during a session, which can result in a decrease in the successful completion of the movement. I have experienced this first hand on many occasions, especially when fishing on
consecutive days. The muscles primarily involved in casting and retrieving will be the wrist flexors and extensors, the biceps brachii (anterior upper arm), triceps brachii (posterior upper arm), and deltoid (shoulder) muscle groups. These muscles can be specifically conditioned to improve their endurance by doing resistance training. Sets of twenty repetitions, with a short rest periods (30 seconds) in between is ideal.
Sight plays a massive role in the success of a lure angler. Certain species, like carp for example, can only be effectively targeted on sight. Being able to see signs of fish activity (bubbles, a swirl on the surface) is also very important, especially when the water is not clear enough to see the fish itself. It is also very important to stay attuned to the sounds you hear while fishing. A lot of the time you can hear fish activity before actually seeing the fish. Carp can often be heard sucking up insects or other organisms from the surface, and movement of reeds can indicate catfish hunting small fish hiding in amongst the reeds. Most of the time in nature it is easier to see or hear the prey first, before you see the predator. Therefore be on the lookout for signs of baitfish or other living organisms that might be regarded as prey for your target species. Sight fishing is definitely one of the most exciting ways of catching fish on lure, so look after your eyes by investing in a good pair of polarized sunglasses.
Being out in the wind and weather can have a major impact on the angler, and probably the biggest concern for South African anglers is staying hydrated in our hot climate. I believe most of us have experienced some form of dehydration after a long days fishing. Dehydration is not just a serious health concern, but it can also negatively affect your ability to concentrate. We tend to get so occupied with pursuing the fish that we don’t hydrate adequately. It is therefore important to have a hydration strategy for the day. This can start by consuming 500ml of water before you start fishing. The general guideline would then be to consume 500ml to one liter every hour spent on the water in hot conditions. It is also good to have a hydration drink on the boat that contains some form electrolytes (e.g.: Energade or Game).
Apart from physical attributes, anglers also need to pay attention to their mental attributes that include attitude, confidence, perseverance and intuition.
Enjoy what you are doing! Like with most things in life, you need the right attitude to be successful on the water. A positive attitude might not land you fish, but it will definitely help you to enjoy yourself more often than not.
There is no better lure than a lure that you have
confidence in. When you are confident that you are fishing in the right spot, and you are confident you are presenting your lure as best possible, then you will without a doubt have more patience and be more focused not to miss a take. Confidence can only be achieved by spending time on the water and testing different lures and presentations in different conditions, and then being successful. You can get the best information from a reliable source when preparing to fish a specific venue, but you need to get it right yourself before you will have confidence in the suggested technique, lure or spot. We always tend to revert back to the things that helped us land fish in the past. I do believe that the wrong lure fished with confidence, will out fish the right lure if fished with a lack of confidence. Cast, retrieve, and believe!
As I previously mentioned, the amount of patience you have is directly linked to the amount of confidence you have in your methods. Never give up. We have all heard the stories of the trophy fish that was landed on the last cast of the day. As long as you have a lure in the water there is a chance of catching a fish. By sticking to the task at hand and having your lure in the water more than your fellow anglers, you will have the odds in your favour. I have experienced this on many occasions, where the fishing has been tough and you sit down to have a break and your boat partner lands the biggest fish of the day.
The sixth sense so to speak. I believe that this is a skill that can be developed by spending more time on the water. It is basically using all your senses and observation skills to make a sub conscious decision that can be the difference between success and failure. For example tying on a lure that you haven’t fished for many years, or deciding to stop at a spot at the last minute and deviating from your initial plan, just because you had a good feeling about it.
SKILL RELATED COMPONENTS that can help improve success on the water are reaction time, casting accuracy, lure presentation and boat positioning.
Very often a take on artificial lure can be very subtle, therefore your ability to react fast to the bite can be the difference between going tight or ending up with the thought of what could have been.
This is definitely a skill that can be practiced and improved. By improving your casting accuracy, and landing your lure on the target, you can drastically improve your chances of getting the fish to take the lure. Often reference is made to the sweet spot, which is the specific spot on a specific cover or structure that will trigger a bite more easily. A lot of the time you only get one chance to get the lure in the right spot, so casting accurately under pressure is also vital. Practice casting in an open field by tying on a weight or lure that cannot snag easily and aiming at specific targets. You can improve your distance and accuracy in this way.
The same lure can be presented in many different ways. The retrieve speed as well as the rod movement, and action can greatly influence the presentation of a lure. This is also true for the type of line and the line diameter that you are using. It is therefore important to experiment with the presentation technique to find out which is most effective on the day. You can practice your lure presentation by casting and retrieving in a swimming pool. The clear water will allow you to see the action of the lure under water, which will help you fish it more effectively.
Boat positioning / manoeuvrings
The position of the boat can greatly affect lure presentation and the time the lure spends in the strike zone. The angle and stealth with which you approach the fish, or the specific structure, or cover also plays a massive role in achieving success. Boat positioning is also a skill that can be improved through practice, and can make all the difference on the day.
Next time before you go out fishing keep in mind that it is not only external factors that can influence your fishing experience but also your own physical attributes, mental attributes, and fishing skills.
*Evert Laubscher is a well known name in the angling world and a pro staff angler for Salmo Lures.
Weight loss exercises
The author with his largemouth bass that was caught on sight