How to get the angler edge – PART 1

Have you ever wondered why some people are really successful when it comes to fishing?  What is it that makes these people stand out from the others?  There’s a saying that 10% of anglers catch 90% of the fish.  In my opinion it doesn’t come down to luck.   Rather key areas, such as, hard earned knowledge, fishing optimum times, preparedness, equipment selection and capability.

For this week’s column I’m going to focus on the first areas of earned knowledge and optimising your fishing experience to try to help you to develop yourself into a skilled angler targeting a particular fish species

Knowledge is the key to cracking the code on catching fish be it behaviours or methods and the only way to achieve this is time around the water. If you are lucky enough to be brought up in a fishing family you are already ahead of the game because interested kids are like sponges and I’ve seen first-hand how fishing traits have been passed on through generations, particularly in the commercial sector.  But what if you aren’t lucky enough to come from a fishing background.   How can you gain that fishing knowledge? 

Start by concentrating on one particular species and jump on the internet for any articles pertaining to that species.  There are books available that are easily discovered with a search that are based solely on individual species.  There’s also a huge number of videos to watch on YouTube.  Facebook fishing groups are great to see what’s being caught with the odd tip or two. There’s also magazine subscriptions that cover many different species and keep anglers up to date with the latest and greatest in fishing equipment.

Many fish are targeted on a seasonal basis, and this will become apparent with some research enabling you to choose your species wisely. Once you’ve selected your target fish species it’s then up to you to get out around the water and to have a crack.   Hopefully from your research you will have a general idea about what is the optimum times throughout the lunar phases to target your species along with the terrain to look for where your target species hangs out.  For example, rocks, reef, sand, gravel, mud, mangroves, structure and weed.  Keeping an eye and an ear out for actively feeding fish, food sources, water currents, water flows, water transition points and even birds can get you even closer to your target species.

Keeping a log of the environment you observe, and the conditions is vital, because you can learn from your experiences.  This is where the information that’s easily forgotten or not even considered is recorded and when studied later forms a pattern.  All fish have bite/feeding windows that are usually small in duration.  Most people commonly think that bite times is mostly linked to the mighty sport fish – the Barramundi.  But this is not the case.  So don’t limit your angler thinking.  You can learn from every fishing trip.  

Skilled anglers targeting a fish species hone in on the triggers that contribute to the bite windows allows.  This identification of the bite window allows the skilled angler to target specific species at precise predicted bite time.  Some of the triggers that should be observed and noted, particularly at the precise time when fish bite are as follows… time of day/night, ambient and water temperature, wind speed and direction, moon phase and position, current flow, water clarity, tide size/time, cloud types and atmospheric pressure.  Also observe and note if there was a particular food source in the area at that time. What were the general weather conditions and did any conditions change before and after the bite?  What part of the breeding cycle was the fish at?

Another important thing to analyse if you kill your fish is to check their gut content for what they have been feeding on as well as what stage of the breeding cycle they are at.  Check for roe and milt condition and document to give an idea when spawning is occurring.

All this information once studied will eventually help identify optimum fishing times and behaviours so be patient and learn from your experience.

Everyone has a phone with a camera so whenever you catch a fish take a photo and then place your photos in a fishing album.  All digital photos are date and time stamped and this allows anglers to scroll through their catches and highlight what you caught and when.      

So, in two weeks’ time I’ll finish off my tips on how to get the angler edge in the remaining key areas of preparedness, equipment selection and capability.  Hopefully I will provide you enough inspiration to get you fishing and you to decide to develop into a skilled angler to target a fish species.

If you do hone your skills you could fish to win cash in my new ALLSTARS INSALT online fishing competition.  There’s months of competition still to occur and stories to share.  I have decades of fishing tips and will interview many successful commercial and recreational anglers to share their suggestions too. 

As much as I like to write about fishing, I’d also like to hear from you.  So please email me at to share your fishing trips, fishing tips, fishing stories and photos.

A day on the water is better than a day at work.

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