What can I do to become a better angler?
Response by Craig Baugher - Dated 1/12/2003

       I recently received an email from one of this NG's lurkers asking "What can I do to become a better angler." I think this is a great topic for the r.o.f.b. community to answer, and told him to look for this post. My Personal Response:

  1. It is important to realize that all anglers, regardless of their experience level, are students of this great sport. Hopefully we continue to learn and keep an open mind to learning till the day we die.

  2. Nothing improves an angler's skills more than spending time on-the-water. Even if you are restricted to fishing the shoreline. In fact learning to become a good shoreliner will only help you to become a much better boat angler. Why? Because as a shoreliner you don't have the electronics to map an area, you have to learn how to use a lure to do that for you. Shoreliners are typically limited to small areas and they learn how to work an area thoroughly before moving on. Finally to become a good shoreliner you have to learn something most boat anglers lack, patience. Fish typically move about a given area, meaning they may move in and out of that small patch you are fishing several times throughout a day. You get to learn to look for signs that indicate when they are there and when they are not. Signs like small ripples in the water, indicating a school of bait fish are present. There are a number of signs, and I promise you that the more time you spend observing the water and nature, their sights and sounds, the easier it will be to recognize the fish's movement.

  3. Practice using a wide variety of lures and lure types to get a feel for what feels best to you and what brings you the most success. Then lock on to only a handful of lures that work best for you. You should have at least, one topwater, one shallow runner, one mid-depth runner, and one bottom bouncer. Some lures cover the total range, such as spinnerbaits, and soft plastics grubs/tubes/worms. Become a specialist with the lures you have chosen. Learn how to rig & modify them to create a variety of actions and sounds. But don't lock yourself into a box. In other words, if someone introduces you to a new lure or a new method of using an old lure that works, try it! It may become one of your specialties.

  4. Go out fishing sometimes with the mind set that you don't want to catch fish, but to just practice casting to targets and learning how you can do it well. Example: find a overhang and practice flipping, pitching or skipping lures into or under it. Do the same to weedbeds, docks, sunken tree tops, etc. If you catch a fish in the process, great, but don't let it deter you from your practice.

  5. Go out to the lake and just observe. Just watch the birds, turtles, baitfish, etc. Listen to the sounds and learn what they mean. Watch the surface water around cover and see if you cannot pickup changes that indicate movement from beneath and size. Especially in shallow water. Remember to wear polarized sunglasses. But learn to spot fish underwater. I cannot tell you how many times I saw a fish that my boating partner overlooked as a rock or never saw at all, or observed water movement or a sound that drew me to a fish. Sound and water movement which were not necessarily caused by the bass itself, but other animals, creatures, and plants.

  6. Understand how wind and water movement effects your lures -- this includes how your boat movement in conjunction with the wind & water effects your lures. Worse thing you can do is to over work a lure. But time on the water with each lure will teach you, by sight, sound, and feel, if the lure is working the way you want it to for drawing strikes.

  7. Attitude. Practice a positive attitude in fishing and in life. Come to the lake 100% confident that you are going to catch fish and a lot of them. Make each cast 100% convinced a fish is going to strike from the second the lure hits the water to the second you pull it out. Sounds easy, and it will be in time, but it takes practice to keep your mind in a positive mind set. It is simply too easy for doubt to creep in and create a snowball effect of negative events to occur, resulting in a bad day.

  8. Stay tuned to this NG. You have a number of great anglers here that occasionally spew their pearls of wisdom that make it worth your time.

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