When you’re visiting a large waterbody for the very first time, such as one of the Great Lakes or a section of the ocean, it can be a difficult to gather good intelligence about crucial factors. These include, for example, the types of structure to which the fish are relating and the best depth to cast or the best speed for trolling. But if you use your eyes, and combine what you see with the great information that your sonar/chartplotter is telling you, you can fast track your way to success.
Now, I want to be adamant—I am not suggesting you should be rude and pull into the middle of a small area where a couple of boats are fishing. I’ve had that happen to me far too many times, and I hate it. I’ve even had boats pull in and drop anchor so close to my marker buoy that I couldn’t make a cast! There is a line between being well-mannered and polite, and rude and obnoxious—and you should never cross it.
What I am suggesting, instead, is that you stay well off to the outside edge of the pack, and observe what the boats are doing. It’s what many local bass anglers do when an Elite tournament pulls into town, and they follow their favourite pro out on the water. You might see that one angler is casting to rockpiles and hooking up consistently, while another is fishing the weeds and getting skunked. Or, perhaps a boat is trolling slightly faster or slower than everyone else and hooking up more often. Or, the lone boat that is moving with the wind is catching walleyes, while the other boats trolling against the waves aren’t getting any bites.
Once you get a good feel for what is working, and gain some confidence in a game plan, then leave the pack and search for a similar section of the lake or ocean that you can fish on your own with your bountiful newfound information. You’ll discover that finding your own fish is more than half the fun.
Fast tracking yourself to success this way—on large stretches of water—is the subject of this week’s “Fish Talk With The Doc” video that I recorded for the Fish’N Canada Show. I hope you enjoy it!