The basis for sustained fishing success still usually gets overlooked, overshadowed by factors that have always made fishing success difficult for most anglers to achieve. That’s because most anglers seek shortcuts to success—a magic fishing spot, a secret bait, a new rigging, just the right rod-and-reel combination. Meanwhile, the winner of the most recent tournament stands on stage pronouncing that a special lure keyed their success, while a television fishing show focuses briefly on some hot new tackle or a definitive pattern that works like magic on at least one body of water during one season. Temptations, all of these. Temptations, urging us to believe such things are the essence of successful fishing.
Magic spots. Hot baits. Even sturdy, reliable fishing patterns—these are all, at best, small pieces of the overall puzzle. The foundation for solving any puzzle in fishing, the foundation for learning how to catch fish consistently, lies in the fishing system we’ve been teaching for more than 30 years.
It begins with the quest to understand the nature of fish species you’re after. Each species moves through seasonal periods of response and understanding these Calendar Periods, as we call them, is the basis for patterning fish and for finding them consistently during various yearly periods.
To apply this information to particular bodies of water all across North America, you also need to recognize different lake, river, and reservoir types. Fortunately, those thousands of bodies of water fall into little more than a dozen patterns that with practice become easy to recognize. Lessons learned on one body of water are readily transferable to similar bodies of water.
Finally, no angler can progress past the most basic stages of fishing without understanding the effect that edges, cover, and structure have on fish. It’s also vital to calculate how the habits of preyfish and other prey influence when and how fish use structural elements.
Of course, laying a solid foundation for fishing success is trench work compared to a lively discussion of the hottest new baits on the scene. Yet there’s never been a great angler who hasn’t learned to apply this foundation material.
From time to time, it bears repeating that successful fishing can be learned—it isn’t just a gift to a gifted few. The process is quantifiable and predictable, even relatively simple—although it does take time. So, no quick cures. We learn a little or a lot about one fishing principle or another, moving forward trip by trip, season by season, often progressing by fits and spurts. We’re here with each In-Fisherman issue to offer hands-on help to solve current problems and, hopefully, entertain you along the way.
Have fun, harvest selectively, and good fishing to you.