By Capt. Joe Kent
There is an old adage that 10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish. Well, while not statistically proven, the odds are that the old adage has a lot of merit.
If you are one of those anglers who comes away feeling like everyone around you is catching fish while you are left with an empty or sparse stringer, hopefully some of these tips will help you join that exclusive 10% group that takes 90% of the fish.
While actively guiding fishing trips, there were a number of things I observed that definitely handicapped my guests from catching many fish.
Most likely the biggest obstacle was in casting skills. Other fishing guides agreed with me that if there was one big fault it was in the lack of being able to cast a bait to a target and at the same time avoid another big problem, backlashes.
Good casting skills are imperative for fan casting or placing your bait precisely near structure or jetties.
There are a number of other skills anglers need to address; however, accurate casting and controlling the line is at the top of the list.
Casting skills take practice and the time not to practice is when on a fishing trip with others.
Choosing a rod and reel you are comfortable using and is appropriate for where you are fishing is the first step.
Practice, practice and more practice is the key to developing your skills in the art of casting.
Once you have become comfortable with your choice of rod and reel and have developed control over where and how far you can cast, then attention can be given to a number of other problems that tend to plague those not bringing home stringers of game fish.
Hook live shrimp under the horn.
Bait & Tackle
While space does not allow an elaboration on each of the following, using the wrong bait for the occasion, hook size and hooking live bait, especially shrimp, are key issues.
For newcomers and those not seasoned at saltwater fishing, I always recommend using live bait, especially shrimp when fishing.
Hooking live shrimp involves practice and experience. There is a small area under the horn on the shrimp’s head that is the appropriate spot to hook the bait. Using too large a hook or hooking the shrimp anywhere else is going to kill the bait and render it in the same category as dead bait. Use a number 6 or 8 treble hook or a small live bait or kahle hook.
Once you have become comfortable with your casting skills and can hook live bait properly, then you are ready for the easier parts of this lesson.
A light southeast breeze is usually best on the upper coast.
Learn to Read the Water
Tide movement and water clarity are of utmost importance in triggering feeding among schools of fish. Once you see those elements come together then you can start looking at the wind direction.
Along the Texas Gulf Coast, the southeast wind is called the fishermen’s breeze as it brings clear Gulf water into the bays and along the beachfront. This is a big plus when choosing a time to go fishing.
The so called 10% group takes time to plan their trips and, based on the forecast, they know what the odds are for a productive excursion.
Most of the seasoned anglers limit their fishing to given areas that they tend to get to know well and learn where the fish will be at a given time. Concentrating on a particular bay, the jetties or surf can do wonders for your confidence.
Patience is a major key to success. Guides and other experienced fishermen choose a spot and will stay there knowing that the fish have appeared there regularly while often having to fight boredom themselves and the impatience of their guests.
There is no way anyone can expect to take home a big stringer of fish on each trip; however, following the steps mentioned above you should greatly enhance your chances of increasing your odds of catching fish when hitting the water.