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Becoming a Better Angler

By Cassie Livingston
In Fishing with Kenny
Jun 5th, 2020


With the ongoing pandemic, it appears that more and more people are spending their time “social distancing” on our area lakes and rivers. The number of people who own boats, fish or just enjoy the outdoors is staggering. Drive to a local boat ramp and you will see what I am talking about.
In the last several years, with the introduction of high school and college fishing, as well as people being introduced to fishing as a result of having little else to do socially, for this month’s Bayou Life article I thought I would share my thoughts and ideas on how to become a better angler. This information isn’t just for the novice angler just starting out or to the young person trying to join their schools fishing team but can be helpful to the seasoned angler as well.
This list will be comprised of things I believe are basic but important aspects of fishing that often get overlooked. While some of my ideas might seem trivial, years of experience have taught me they are more important than you might think. Today’s anglers, especially the younger ones, are a wealth of
technological information. Let’s take a different look at things.
LEARN YOUR EQUIPMENT. I have seen and heard people on numerous occasions complain about their rods/reels and other equipment while they are on the water. My first thought is always, “why didn’t you try it out before you put it into action?” I never use a piece of equipment without trying it out first. Never. I will go to a local pond or even my front yard to see how a rod will throw, a reel will perform or even how a line feels. Test it before you incorporate it into your arsenal. This will save you a lot of headaches on the water.
DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE. Over a period of time, the more you fish, you will develop lures and techniques you prefer over others. This can be a blessing and a curse. While creating your own way of doing things, remain open minded. Myself for example, I love to fish shallow water and have won a lot of tournaments doing so. However, I have learned how to fish deep water and the techniques that are needed to effectively do so. My preference is to fish less than five feet deep, that is my style of fishing but if need be, I can pull out a Carolina rig or a deep crankbait and still be competitive.
ASK QUESTIONS. The best way to learn things, other than through your own experience, is to ask questions. I will admit fishermen can be fickle about sharing information but if you ask questions in the right way, most anglers are more than willing to share good information with you. Instead of asking specific questions, ask general ones. For example, instead of asking what part of the lake someone caught their fish, ask them how deep they caught them. Instead of asking what color spinnerbait or crankbait, ask them about the blades or how deep the bait would run. The answers to these basic questions can put you on the path to finding and catching your own fish.
“IT’S HARD TO CATCH SOMEONE ELSE’S FISH.” This is a follow up to the previous information but a cardinal rule in fishing has always been, “It’s hard, if not impossible, to catch someone else’s fish”. While fishing all those years with the late Glynn Blankenship, I learned just how difficult catching fish off of a particular area or spot can be if you don’t know the specifics of what you are doing. Unless you are in the boat with someone and can see exactly what they are doing, how the boat is positioned and the casts they make, you are better off taking the general information given to you and finding your own areas. Over time this will also make you a better fisherman.
LEARN ON THE WATER ETHICS. I could write a whole article about this particular aspect of fishing but I believe I can condense it down to a few suggestions. Learn how to properly operate your boat using the big engine. Learn how to control your boat’s wake at slow and fast speeds. Be courteous to other fishermen. If they are in an area you want to fish or a particular spot, give them room to do so. Don’t crowd them or impose on the area, a common practice I have experienced with many of today’s younger anglers. Don’t let an on-the-water incident ruin your day and more importantly, don’t let something you do ruin someone else’s day.
PREPARE BEFORE YOU LEAVE YOUR HOUSE. To me, preparation has always been the key to success. If I know the body of water I will be fishing, the week before I will spend my time getting my tackle ready for my practice period or the tournament itself. Wasted time is killer for a tournament angler. The more casts you can make, regardless of the technique, the more successful you will be. I need to know where everything is in my boat so that I waste as little time as possible if I have to re-tie or find another bait. Extreme? Maybe, but if you want to be successful then you have to create and adopt positive habits.
YOU WILL CREATE YOUR OWN LUCK, BOTH GOOD AND BAD. If I had a dollar for the times I’ve heard the, “he broke my line or I lost a big one at the boat” story, I could possibly retire. I know that is a bit of an overstatement but at every tournament weigh-in, I hear anglers talk about it. In order to become good at this sport the most important thing you need to remember is that luck has very little or if anything to do with being successful at it. The fishermen who consistently have their share of good luck prepare in such a way for good luck to happen to them. The fishermen who have constantly experienced bad luck, the same can be said for them.
If you are using the wrong rod/reel combination for a particular technique, you will lose fish. If you are using hooks that aren’t as sharp as they should be, you will lose fish. If your line isn’t compatible to the technique you are using, it will break. All of these variables can be and should be controlled by you the angler. An angler’s oversight is usually the reason for their bad luck. Being prepared is the reason they have good luck.
Well it looks like we have run out of time and space again for another month. I hope we have shared some information with you that will help you become a better angler. Please be safe and if you are out on the water, please catch one for me! See you next month!