by Gary Brown
Step 1. Know your targeted fish species. If you have never caught particular fish species before, it would be advisable to put in the hours researching and studying your quarry. Know where it lives, its physical features, how and what it is likely to eat and what type of conditions turn it on or off. It maybe a rise or fall in the barometer, a change in what direction the wind is blowing or even the time of year.
This tarpon was caught by the author while fishing after dark from the breakwall at Townsville Harbour. Timing was the key
Step 2. Decide where you are going to fish before you go. Make the decision on whether you are going to fish off the beach, rock or in the estuary, as each of these areas has their own particular characterists. For example, it doesn’t matter what beach you are going to fish, they all change with the coming and going of the tide and the beach you are going to fish from, may fish better during the bottom part of the tide rather than at the top of the tide. Now when it come to rock fishing some place I fish have to be very calm and others have to have a certain amount of white water for them to produce fish. Estuary systems are a completely different kettle of fish as you will come across a set of vast sand flats, deep holes, rock bars, deep channels, structures and breakwall.
Step 3. Keep records. They say that ninety percent of the fish are caught by ten percent of the anglers, and it is those anglers who keep some kind of record of their catches. Whether it is just an album full of photos with a few notes written on the back or it’s a detailed diary of the where they fished, what day it was, which part of the tide was fished, weather conditions, types of baits and rigs used, were they fishing off the shore or out of a boat and what species of fish they were chasing. This extremely valuable collected information is essential to any angler who wants to be in that ten percent.
Step 4. Devise a plan. To my way of thinking you must have a plan before you go for a fish. Sure you could get up in the morning or come home from work and on the spur of the moment decide to go fish a fish because the weather is great or you have an hour or so to spare. I have done this plenty of times before, but I still think it is a good idea to have some kind of plan before you go.
The plan could be as simple as getting your tackle bag, rod and reel outfit and bait sorted out ready to put into your car, so that all you need to do in the morning is get up, get dressed and go. Another part of this plan would be the night before you would have checked what the forecast was for the next day and a couple of weeks ago you would have already salted down the slimy mackerel and the pilchards that you were going to take on the next snapper outing off the rocks.
Step 5. Do I use bait and berley or do I just take out lures? Time and time again during the fishing classes that I hold or talks that I conduct for other anglers, 'When I go fishing with lures I always talk some bait with me, just in case I don’t get anything on the lures'. All I can say with this is, you have to make a decision. Take either bait or take lures. Make a decision. Sure you could do both, but if you want to try and master either one I would only use one.
Many years ago I had the pleasure of spending a week with Mike Spry being taught how to fly fish for trout on the Swampy Plains River at Khancoban. This first thing I was asked for by Mike was my car keys. Mike then went to the boot of the car and took out my spin gear and a box of lures. He advised me that to learn how to fly fish was fly fish and not to change back to lure fishing when the times got tough. That outfit and bow of lures spent the week in the cupboard.
What I did learn during that week was not only how to fly fish and catch plenty of trout, was that when the fishing got hard (wind knots in the leader, back cast caught in trees, catching myself in the back or the neck, a sore arm, striking either too hard or too soft, plus much more, was that if I was going to master fly fishing and catch trout I couldn’t take the easy option go back to casting out a few lures. Something I have done before.
To this day I still advised anglers that if they want to learn how to either fly fish, use soft plastics, hard bodied lures or blades, make a decision and take one.
Step 6. Timing. If you don’t get your timing right when fishing you will usually miss the bite. For example if you done the research before and have found that a particular high tide gutter fishes best during the top of the tide for salmon and tailor. Don’t try fishing it at the bottom of the tide. To get your timing correct you should try and coincide the fishing time to either an hour before the sun rises or an hour before the sun sets. Tailor and salmon tend to feed more during this low light period of time. It’s the same as if the timing is out in your car, you will get poor performance, and poor performance means bad results.
On the other hand if the weather has changed and it is now an overcast day, this particular high gutter could fish really well during the middle of the day. This is where keeping a dairy comes in very handy.
Step 7. Maintain your tackle and terminal gear. When I come home from a fishing trip I will always take off all the terminal gear, including lures, blades and jig heads, lightly wash down them down with fresh water. I then lightly spray them with either WD40 or Inox, wipe with a dry cloth and then put them away. Nothing is worse than hooking up to a fish and having something seise up. Your tackle needs to be kept in prime condition and maintained regularly to give you that high performance you need. Oh, and WD40 or Inox doesn’t put the fish off the bite. If it did I would be using them.
Step 8. Be Patient. Most of all you need to be patient when chasing your chosen fish species. For example, if you strike to soon when you see the down of the float when fishing for luderick you most probably will miss the fish and if you don’t strike soon enough when chasing mulloway you could also miss that fish of a life time.