Putting fish in the boat on a consistent basis is easier said than done. On the one hand we have unavoidable external factors — such as the mood of our quarry — that is ultimately out of our control. But what about the bad habits and mistakes we routinely bring to the lake? Subconscious or not, these "negative" traits often become a detriment to our angling success, costing us a bend in the rod on many of our outings. Plain and simple — mistakes are a deal breaker in the game of fishing.
Relying on Confidence Baits
We all have our favorite lures. Those with the hearty teeth marks, scratched paint and weathered look. The baits we rely on day in and day out — comfortable to cast, easy to use and responsible for hooking that giant of a fish some six years back. Turning to confidence baits is one of the most common mistakes we commit as anglers. And we are all guilty of it.
For those struggling with change, give yourself a set amount of time to work a single lure. Use a stopwatch if it helps. If you've fished without a sniff for 15 or 20 minutes, then switch up presentations and try something else. This is the best way to break your habit.
The Sunshine Syndrome
Raise your hand if you're a fair weather fisherman. It's not a surprise that a large percentage of anglers schedule their time on the water to revolve around favorable and pleasant weather patterns. Many see comfort far outweighing the merits of catching more fish. For those that have limited days on the water, such as many of the weekend warriors, this train of thought can negatively impact how much we get to enjoy our favorite pastime.
Force yourself to fish in less than favorable conditions this season. Inclement weather will often turn fish on, leading to invaluable feeding windows and better-than-average bites. You'll also face less angling pressure, which is a bonus for you and the fish.
The most important thinking is to be prepared. Get a drift sock, buy reputable rain gear, and utilize your trolling motor or kicker to better work for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Challenging your comfort level is key to overcoming the syndrome. You may not come home with a tan, but you might bring a trophy of a lifetime with you.
Keep in mind that safety always comes first. If it is unsafe to venture on the lake then please don't do so. But don't let a little wind, rain, or the cold — and the weatherman for that matter — keep you from having fun.
Lack of Concentration
Concentration is a key aspect of successful angling. When a big fish strikes, being alert and ready for battle will up the odds in your favor. Make each cast count, work the bait to your utmost capacity on each and every retrieve (sloppy casts or half-hearted cranks of the reel will not suffice), and mentally be in the game for your time out on the water. Trophy fish are a rare breed, so think of the "next cast" as being the "one", and you'll lessen the chance of losing her — or missing the strike completely — when she finally comes out to play.
Opt for a healthy breakfast the morning of your outing. I know, tough to turn your nose up at greasy bacon and sausage, but nourishment that won't make you lethargic will make a big difference in giving you an athlete's edge.
Staying hydrated can also be a key factor. A hot sun and lack of water can wreak havoc on your system — interfering with mental alertness, your ability to set the hook lightning quick, and ultimately, being completely and 100 percent in the game.
Stock up on healthy snacks for the boat and watch your concentration levels climb.