We all had to start somewhere. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, here are the steps in the evolution of a fisherman.
Every fishing buff has experienced that day when we were skunked, while everyone else filled their stringers. Maybe we were even fishing in the same spot, using the same gear and same lures. How does this happen?
The fix was probably an easy one. A change in technique, presentation, or maybe just a little better understanding of your target could have done the trick.
Or your fishing buddies are real jerks and cut the hooks off of your lure, knowing you were too ignorant to notice. Still, it was a day spent fishing. It was not wasted, especially if you watched, learned and evolved.
Here are all the stages we as anglers go through. Which one are you at?
In the Beginning
Fish start as fry, and so do fishermen. The only real way to move ahead is to spend time soaking your line, but keep in mind fishing is far more than just waiting. Pay careful attention to everything around you.
For example, corks often do not go all the way under or even bounce wildly. It’s often just a gentle nudge. The only way you notice is from time spent observing the natural rhythm of the cork on the water. When you see something out of place, set the hook.
The best shortcut is to learn from others and mimic what you see. Even if you do not have a fishing buddy to learn from, resources can give you enough information to go it alone.
Stage 1: Small Fry
At this stage, its all about the how-to.
- How to bait a hook.
- How to tie on a lure, so it will not easily come off.
- How to get the bait to go where you want it to go without getting slung off.
- So on and so forth…
Next Level: Stick with live baits and live fishermen at this stage, and carefully observe how they work. As mentioned, you’ll learn the most by watching and then copying what you saw.
Stage 2: Fresh Fish
All fishermen must master their gear and techniques.
- Know the difference between a spinning combo, a casting combo, and a fly combo. Know when to use each.
- Decide where your passion lies. We all favor particular fish species and methods.
- Achieve success with both live and artificial bait, so you are as flexible as possible.
Next Level: Fishing is not you against the fish. Fishing is you against the world. You might find the right cover and structure for your desired prey, but the best fishing is usually around conditions not easily seen.
If it’s easy to see, it’s often already heavily fished. Use your experience to seek out places, and develop methods of your own.
Stage 3: Keeper
At this stage, you are the physician.
- Anyone with any real experience can pick out the right fishing conditions. Learn which matter and which to ignore.
- Pay attention to boiling water, variations in color, ripples, swirls, and patterns of current. They will tell you the conditions below.
- Observe the wildlife around you, such as insects, bait fish, and even birds. These can give away the location of fish and what they are feeding on.
Next Level: Break with convention on occasion. You have the basic knowledge and skills to reason out a fishing situation. If something completely different makes sense to you, give it a try. Maybe you will be the one to invent the next generation of great lures.
Stage 4: Lunker
So you made it. You are God’s gift to the sport of fishing.
- You can go behind other fishermen and catch fish where they caught nothing.
- If you cannot catch a fish there, no one can.
Next Level: What? Another level past lunker? Of course! There is always more to learn, and you can learn from anyone and everyone. This is what makes fishing a great sport.
Here are some final thoughts for all stages. Do not let your own ego keep you from the catch of a lifetime. The fish might ignore your $8 crankbait but bite a five-year-old’s piece of bubble gum. There’s no shame in bribing a five-year-old.