Poor Man’s Fish Findersby Garry Brummett
Many anglers new to our sport (and some not-so-new) have a challenge in finding fish, or just knowing if they are working a fishy spot. Angling from a boat rigged with an electronic fish finder, depth, temperature, and GPS coordinates does give the inshore saltwater angler a distinct advantage. Such is the ability to easily move out of unproductive areas, the ability to mark fish beneath the surface and to log in the water temperature, the depth, and even log a global position for later use. So what are poor, shore-bound or electronically-challenged boat anglers to do? Choosing an inshore beach, jetty or pier by chance is not utilizing all of your assets. “I have assets,” you say. You sure do. Let’s look at some of them now.
Finding left over bait on docks shows that someone has been fishing there, and what to use for bait.
Electronic Reports and Bulletin Boards
The day of reading paper for timely information is all but gone in this digital, fast paced world in which we live. So use this to your advantage. Many coastal states have websites dedicated to the exchange of information for inshore anglers. All you have to do is tune in, ask questions and when the time is right, contribute back to the site with your report!
Local Tackle Shops
Please don’t just walk in and start pumping the pros for local information. Information from your local tackle shop is a two-way street. The best information is generally shared freely with clients and customers. So do some shopping, there’s got to be something you need just one more of, right? OK, so now you have established yourself as a real customer, it is alright to ask for “help and guidance” and, trust me, those exact words work very well appeasing the vanity of most shop owners and pros. All of the good, confident fisherpersons I know really do enjoy sharing information with people truly interested in saltwater angling. And if the pro recommends a plug, that is the one to buy. A kind word or two from a resident fishing pro can save you much time and money.
Fishing Clubs and Organizations
Let’s face it, hanging out in a casual setting with people who share your passion for saltwater fishing is what its all about. And the idea of financially supporting your chosen sport by maintaining a membership in a fishing club probably fits your character. So why not join and support the people who help promote and protect your right to enjoy your sport? Not to mention that club membership puts you in direct contact with more people who are extremely likely to know where and when the fish are going to be found in the area.
Hire a Captain
People who make their living putting clients onto fish really know how to pattern events. So consider investing 5 or 6 hundred dollars into a charter in an area you plan to fish in the near future. Listen and learn while you are on board and then turn that knowledge into your own advantage on your next solo trip.
Let’s see, who else out there eats baitfish? Your quarry is not the only hungry mouth to feed in the bays and estuaries. Other species of animals can inform you of the presence of bait, and potentially your chosen quarry will be there, too.
Ocean birds such as gulls, cormorants, eagles, and osprey will always know more about the presence of baitfish than most fishermen.
Ocean birds such as gulls, cormorants, eagles, and osprey will always know more about the presence of baitfish than most fishermen. Their raucous cries and aerial displays are dead giveaways to the bait ball just beneath the surface. And that bait ball is a sure sign of hungry sub-surface predatory fish, such a Stripers and Blues.
What does a bent rod and lots of cheering usually tell you? Alright, that one is a no-brainer and here’s your sign… However, even if there are no other fishermen around, a spot on the beach, jetty or dock with scales and blood on it may well indicate that fish were just caught here recently.
So, even if you don’t have a fancy electronic fish finder, you do have options and assets. So use your assets and get out there!