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Old 07-15-2005, 08:26 AM
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Boston Fishwire Discussion: What Makes an Effective Angler?

I was (re)reading on of A.J. McClane’s books the other night and came across a piece he wrote about a study conducted on a stream on the subject of angler effectiveness in the ’60s. Basically, they confirmed what we’ve all suspected for a long time. Most of anglers couldn't find a fish stick in grocery store, and a small handful of anglers are utterly deadly.

So my question is this: what are the things that separate one group from the other?

(read the full Boston Fishwire here... )
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Old 07-15-2005, 08:41 AM
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Well, knowing who A.J. McClane is for starters, I think.

Is it one of the articles in his encyclopedia?
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Old 07-15-2005, 08:50 AM
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Cool

Some of the best guys I know have excellent observation skills and tend to put theory into application by hitting the water often and in different conditions.
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Old 07-15-2005, 08:59 AM
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Thought and visualisation. The good guys look at the structure, how the current moves, how the water is moving over the rocks. Use your glasses to spot deeper spots, sand lanes and bars. Think about why fish would be there...are they cruising? holding in a seam? staging and chasing? They think about the bait, the pressure the fish have been seeing, how active they are. The beauty of working a fly is you can impart the exact action that you want for a given condition. The best anglers I know are so dialed into their retrieve. They try to see how the fly is moving, how the bass want something to look. The best looking fly won't be touched if it doesn't move the right way. You can quarter a fly into a rip or current, and twitch it as it passes by bass stacked up in a seam or a dropoff, looking like an baitfish that is hampered by the current. Fish chasing a ton of bait, hard but very short strip to make the fly look injured. Fish cruising...they burn the fly one cast and slow it down a little bit on the next cast, always trying to figure out the pattern. Bass keyed in on a balled up bait that seemingly wont touch a fly...sink the fly and take a long, slow strip with a little twitch at the end. Crippled baitfish giving a death kick...deadly.

Knowing what the lure should and should not do also gives away subtle takes. This is especially applicable with spinning gear. When you have fish keyed in on a certian bait and balled up...not taking anything that you are throwing at them. A fin-s fish matching the hatch on a jighead is deadly. Throw into the middle of the ball of bait and keep contact with the jig just letting it sink, occasionally twitching it. The experienced angler will slay fish doing this, while often times you see people do this and not hook a thing. They are both getting hit, but it's a very subtle take knowing how the line twitches when a bass sucks it in, or seeing a pause in the sink or feeling that very light tap is often the difference between a 50 fish day and a handfull.

I have found that the most helpfull thing to get better is to fish with an expert. If you go with a guide, ask the guide to fish, literally beg them if they refuse. Watch them like a hawk and imitate what they are doing...I have learned so much by trying to emulate the best guys out there. You can read as much as you can, and this will help to an extent. But by watching someone who really knows what they are doing, you get so much knowledge and technique in a very short ammount of time.
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:02 AM
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Spending time learning how to read is crucial.
Read:
Tide Charts
Nautical Charts
Temp Charts
Lunar Phases

not to mention the water and of course Reel-Time

I've found that beating a dead horse can sometimes bring it to life too. Hitting the same spot at the same time of day, day in and day out for a period of time will teach you a lot. Some fish respond to time of day, some to tide stage and some to a combination of both.
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:13 AM
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Excellent Point!

Actually getting the guide to fish with you is a big plus.

I had an interesting discussion with Capt. Ken Courtlangus for Frequent Flyer a while back. I asked him how he was doing with bookings from Reel-Time. He laughed. "Only one...but that guy booked 15 separate trips and is one of my favorite people to fish with."

I notice from the pictures the guides send in that some of the best pix tend to feature a lot of the same faces. Hawk fishing with Capt. Jim Hull, Peter McCarthy fishing with a variety of guides, etc.

I often tell guys who are thinking about buying a boat to save their cash. If you're only going to fish a day or two a week, that boat payment is better spent on chartering. They'll be assured of quality time on the water and at the same time will be fishing and learning from the best.
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Cahill
So my question is this: what are the things that separate one group from the other?

(read the full Boston Fishwire here... )

Does anyone who frequents this site believe (and can admit) that they are currently a part of the less successful group? Or are we all experts
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Old 07-15-2005, 09:32 AM
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On Occassion I have my doubts...

I always wonder if I could be doing things better. And I am dead certain I don't have as good a hand at feeling the subtle hits as either my buddy Gerhard, or for that matter, my mother, both of whom are deadly.

I've spent too many days steelheading with Gerhard to believe it's just luck. And when we fish together, it's usually exactly the same rig, fly etc.

Of course, I make up for it with casting ability, presentation, etc. But the truth is, I'm certain I miss hits that those two would not.
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Old 07-15-2005, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Cahill
I always wonder if I could be doing things better. And I am dead certain I don't have as good a hand at feeling the subtle hits as either my buddy Gerhard, or for that matter, my mother, both of whom are deadly.

I've spent too many days steelheading with Gerhard to believe it's just luck. And when we fish together, it's usually exactly the same rig, fly etc.

Of course, I make up for it with casting ability, presentation, etc. But the truth is, I'm certain I miss hits that those two would not.
I think it's fair to say we all have room for improvement - and that you can be a master of one fishery and terrible in another (stripers versus steelhead)
But maybe the speed at which someone can unlock the combination (meaning find fish and make them bite) on a variey of different conditions and fisheries is one component of a great fisherman.

For stripers I believe that I was part of the unsuccessful group up to about 3 years ago.
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Old 07-15-2005, 11:21 AM
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I have no idea...

(the fish sticks are in aisle 3 by the way.)
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Old 07-15-2005, 11:41 AM
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I chime in on a coulpe points.

Being observant is one of the most important things in being a good fisherman. Notice every single minute detail.

When I hook a fish no matter how big or small, I now automaticly make a mental note of all the variables (tide, time, depth, retrieve, did I let the lure sink while clearing fouled line before retriving, speed of retrieve, contoure of bottom etc)

Then there are smaller things to pay attention to. Smell, the "look" of a piece of water, birds behavior (not just working but direction of EVERY passing bird.. they are not going on vacation)

Spending time OTW is critical, by fishing more you will automaticly do things that now you may have to think about doing. THe list above of things I make note of along with many others, now just kind of happens. My mind just proceses these things without concious effort. In doing so I find I can "see" good water that others don't always see.

An example is when fishing a large school of breaking fish I don't jsut cast to the school. I observe it, notice where the heaviest concentrations of fish are in the school (even in the areass of heavy activity there are always pockets of slightly BETTER activity) I pick the school apart rather than fishing "the whole school" When I cast to the school I cast to a specific boil or fish almost every time. If nothing else its accuracy practice, but I believe it helps me catch a few more fish than someone next to me casting randomly at the school.

Always believe you can catch more fish. If you are catching a fish every other cast you can do better.... and you should! Never be satisfied with anything but a fish on every cast, then work for bigger fish every cast. In a frenzy of feeding why are you catching every other or every third cast? In another way of saying it, your catching 30-50% of the time... remember below 70% isn't a passing grade So every third cast sounds good, but 30% sound lousey, fix it.

Be willing to change things to catch more even when your doing well. This is where time OTW helps. If you only get out 1 time a month and your in a blitz catching every 3rd cast, changing things may not be easy and may not be the right thing to do since your time is limited. If you fish daily know you can do this again soon and if you can dial things in you'll do even better next time.

Don't complicate things! Fish are not smart! They are instinctual, but not smart. They have certain urges/need and they work to meet them. Those needs are:
A. Eat
B. Breed
C. Don't get eaten
D. Try to be comfortable doing A-C
Thats really all most fish ever do. figuring out how they are doing this is what fishing is all about. Its not outsmarting the fish its learing about them and adjusting your methods to meet those needs.

I've fished for new species I've never fished before and by using this method Ive been able to find and catch types of fish that were unlike what I'm used to.

Also learning how others catch similar types of fish can help you catch you type of fish more effectively. Examples are: they fish eels for cruising cobia, I read all I can on it so I can better learn to fish eels when fishing cruising bass. Even though we don't have cobia around, the techniques can and do often overlap. THen when you find yourself in an area with cobia on vacation, you've got insight on them and can and should be able to find and catch them.

The bottom line is pay attention to details no matter how small.

As for fishing with the guide, thats a tough one. I generally don't like to fish with my sports unless it's discussed when booking the trip. I don't feel I pay enough attention to my sports when I'm paying attention to MY fishing, so I don't like to do it. A good guide should be able to hear a loop in you line when you cast. Hear the line over the bail roller on the retrieve before you figure out what the problem is. Or unhook your loose flyline from something BEFORE the fish hits and breaks off. If I'm fishing those little things may go unnoticed and thats not fair to the guy paying $$$ for a trip. So if you plan to fish with a guide make sure you let them know before you get OTW that is your intention. JMHO.

Hope this helps.
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