It seems like a simple question, right? Some fishermen like flying by the seat of their pants where others like to draw up a game plan before each trip. For myself, I like coming up with a few plans but sometimes find it inevitable to just wing it when impromptu opportunities arise. It usually depends on how much preparatory time I have, but like to rely on past experiences and knowledge to formulate a plan if at all possible. The more successful anglers usually have plans and are more consistent even though it sometimes pays to be lucky.
Some general things to think about in order to formulate a fishing trip plan are;
-What am I after?
-Where are they found? (pelagic, kelp, deep rocky structure)
-What gear and rigs are appropriate for this type of fishing?
-What are they feeding on right now? Do I mimic the forage or throw them something different to elicit a strike?
-Where have they last been caught?
-What tide, time and/or moon phase is usually best for this particular type of fishing?
-What water temps do they prefer?
-What are the weather conditions going to be like?
-Do I have the appropriate landing tools if I find them? (Gaffs, Nets, Lippers, Tail Ropes)
-What is my plan B?
-How much gear do I bring?
This is by no means the only things to think of, but it’s generally a good starting point when preparing for each trip.
It’s always great talking to fishermen and finding out what they are actually “after” when they go fishing and if they planned for the trip. Some people just say “to be outdoors and bond with nature”, others say just to “get away from the house” with no particular plan except to get a line in the water and drink a beer. I particularly like when I hear them say “Big Fish… but I’ll take quantity and variety also”. Most of these anglers have a plan for whatever type of fishing they are doing and get double rewarded when they accomplish their goal. Not only do you get to feel the joy of making your buddies a little jealous, get to say “I love it when a plan comes together”. Having your plan unfold to
Fishing means something different for each individual, but almost all of the really successful anglers find a goal for each particular trip and plan for it. Many fish species are difficult to target and the odds might not be in your favor to succeed, but proper planning can only increase your odds at achieving your goal.
The more successful anglers usually have plans and are more consistent even though it sometimes pays to be lucky.
Success usually starts the day before a trip by putting a plan together, even a Plan B, Plan C… and so on. Putting a plan together and making goals for a trip is always the mark of a good hunter, but it sometimes comes with consequences… namely Mother Nature. She has a knack for fooling the world’s weathermen and screwing with the forecast to make your goal un-achievable. This is where having multiple back up plans is always a good idea as it might just salvage the trip. One example would just pack one extra smaller rod along with some appropriate gear so you could scale down if necessary. Nothing sucks more than packing a bunch of 40 pound rods to go mossback yellowtail hunting just to be blown out and have to fish the bay with the same gear. Catching a spotted sand bass on 40 pound test is not exactly sporting or much fun. (even though it might win you the bet with your buddy for “Biggest” and “Most”)
This covers any type of fishing you are doing. Whether it is boat fishing for pelagic species, inshore fishing for halibut or just hitting the local lake for largemouth bass. Having a plan gives you an advantage and is an important part of any fishing trip when you really want to attempt more “Catching” rather than “Fishing”.