Fall has been “on” for several weeks now. If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that means I have been fishing, hard. I probably fish as hard or harder in the fall than I do any other time of year, especially any other time of open-water fishing.
What does that mean? Does it mean I am on the water sunrise to sunset, three, four, or five days a week? I wish, but not hardly.
Don’t get me wrong. I can still grind for hours a day, day after day. On some trips that is exactly what I do. Even then, I have learned that it is a marathon, not a sprint. You have to pace yourself, so you can be able to take advantage of bite windows when they open. Ain’t going to do you any good if you are burned out when the fish finally start biting.
Here is a good article with some no-nonsense ideas on how to fish smarter, not harder. Read it!
If you looked through my fishing log of many years, you would find trip after trip of a few hours in length. I will always tell you that nothing beats time on the water. Yes, I try to spend as much time on the water as possible. The best way to do that is to target one or two waterbodies close to home that have the potential to produce the fish you want to catch. In my case waters close to home that have the potential to produce big fish, big predator fish. Having “home waters” means you can spend as much time as possible on the water whenever you have time. Those times are often a couple, three hours here, a couple hours there. As a matter of fact, over dozens of years, I can tell you the length of my “average” fishing trip is 3.2 hours.
You have often heard me say that the best time to go fishing is whenever you have time. On the other hand, a really good stick I know once said he would rather spend a few hours fishing at the right time than a lot of hours fishing at the wrong time. So, what might be the “right time”?
Go fishing whenever you can, but make special efforts to be on the water when you know conditions are right. Early and late in the day, sunrise and sunset, are often prime times. Periods of stable, warming weather are often prime times. Wind blowing from one direction or another will produce prime fishing conditions for one spot or another. Depending on the species being pursued, there are different seasonal peaks for different fish. Spend enough time on the water and you will begin to learn those tendencies. Sure, I GO FISH whenever I have time. However, I will look ahead to plan those times to be as likely as possible to be successful. I may not fish long on any given trip, but I definitely fish frequently!
Another factor that will make it easier is confidence. Unfortunately, that is a conundrum because the more fish you catch the more confident you become and the more you fish with confidence the more fish you will catch. I have no secret sauce to achieving that confidence other than fishing as much as possible.
And while you are at it, fish smarter not harder. You will know when you get there.