How to get the angler edge – PART 2

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 continuing to try to help you to develop yourself into a skilled angler targeting a particular fish species.  So, I’m finishing off in the areas of preparedness, equipment selection and capability.  So, if you missed my fishing tips column from 2-weeks ago then you’d better go back into the ALLSTARS Fishing Tips articles and catch up and learn about the areas of earned knowledge and optimising your fishing experience. 

Leigh Jones with a 75cm Nannygai from the Port of Gladstone

Learning from your mistakes when fishing is essential and there is always a better way of doing things whether it be location identification, gear selection, bait/lure selection/presentation and fishing techniques.  The list could go on forever.  

Preparedness for fishing is a key area for me.  For me to be a skilled angler and successfully target fish species it requires many hours spent in my shed preparing the fishing gear, while listening to music and sipping on a few bourbons.  This involves anything from tying of doubles and leaders, hook and split ring upgrades, lure fabrication, multi hook and wire trace assembly.   My point is you don’t want to arrive at your fishing destination when a hot bite starts and you’re rigging up instead of fishing and consequently miss the small bite window.  

Another aspect to highlight regarding preparedness, is how well you maintain your gear post fishing trip.  Aside from a yearly reel service, your gear needs attention after each use.  This includes, washing with fresh water and spraying to prevent a collapsed roller bearing or seized handle bearing at the wrong time.

Modern fishing gear seriously gives fishermen the upper hand with lightweight carbon fibre rods matching reels with ridiculous drag capabilities spooled with braid strong enough to pull a grown man overboard.  Having said that, successful anglers have an outfit or two suitable to specific target species and won’t mix them around.  Just looking at my own gear I have outfits for Whiting, Salmon, Barramundi, bottom reef fish, flats reef fish and Spanish Mackerel.  All these outfits obviously have different breaking strain line and are suited to the respective species.  An example of why we have different outfits for specific species – my Spanish outfits are 20,000 size spin reels and although very capable of being utilized for casting over flats for reef fish, they are way too heavy an outfit and you end up with sore arms and shoulders within 15 minutes of continual casting.  Whereas the 10,000-size reel specific for the task can be cast all day.  I would suggest talking to your local tackle store for advice on what to purchase for the species you want to target.

The same goes for electronics, so talk to your local marine electronics store for advice.  Modern electronic mapping systems and electric motors pinpoint an angler to anywhere on the planet.  In addition, when it comes to sonar technology – nothing is left to the imagination these days whether it be 2D sonar, down/side imaging, or live scope technology.  This technology doesn’t lie and to see schools of your target species right in front of you and not biting can be downright frustrating, but just like humans – fish don’t eat 24/7.    A fish’s metabolism is ever changing due to its life stage, environment and their behaviour so don’t expect them to eat constantly.

Just like people, fish have also evolved and are becoming smarter.  They have impressive communication abilities, long-term memories and sophisticated social structures.  They have the ability to learn so when a fish is caught or hooked and released it has the ability to remember.  So, this begs the question… are older fish harder to catch because they have seen a hook or two?  I remember many years ago Longtail and Mac Tuna could be caught throwing the heaviest of slugs over and through the school.  These days if a heavy slug lands anywhere near the school they instantly head deep in avoidance.  Consequently much lighter, smaller slugs and plastics are needed these days to entice a bite.  Is this another example of fish evolving?  This is where thinking outside the box come into its own.  Experimenting with home-made lures and or adaptions to existing lures for example can get outstanding results.  Fish can get used to the same “run of the mill” mass produced lures especially in pressured areas.  So don’t be afraid to experiment.

So, with this information processed and put into practice it’s once again time around water that increases an anglers fishing capability to successfully target a fish species and actually catch it.

This brings us back to where you think you fit into the 10% of anglers catching 90% of the fish.  The standout leaders in my ALLSTARS competition definitely fit into the 10% category. 

Where do you think you fit?

Richie O’Brien with his 112cm Cobia from the closest port of Gladstone

ALLSTARS has 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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