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"Time spent off the water is time saved on the water"
By Justin Hires

 

As a weekend fisherman, you know how hard it can be to plan, find and figure out the best fishing possible; for the up coming weekend. As one works all week, and canít get out on the water, itís tough sometimes to predict where to go for the weekend. Even if you plan on a location; one has to ask ďwhat are the water conditions, where would the fish be located, what are the best lure choices?Ē

Oh, and letís not forget the little time we have these two days to spend on the water.

So, before we get ahead of ourselves; letís first make the best of our time constraints, by using our free time during the week.

Start with your fishing equipment REELS
Check fishing reels for cleanness, smoothness, and proper function.  Start by doing an inspection. Look at the reel and see if is clean. Next spin the reel handle and listen and feel for any noise or roughness. Next check the reel for proper function. If any or all of these checks do not pass inspection; then the problems need to be fixed before the next trip.

 Who wants to waste time on the water fixing a problem?

A good way to clean a reel and get the roughness out of the bearings is to use reel lubricating oil. There are many lubricants out on the market to choose from. I prefer Scent Tec ďSpeedy ReelĒ www.ScentTec.com .  I apply a few drops to the bearings and gears and clean the reel with it also. This oil is made for all parts of the reel, to protect it, enhance performance, and even is scented so as not to repel fish if it happens to get on your hands or lure. 

Fishing Line
Next, check the fishing line. If the line is more than a few months old, it might need to be changed. Start by cutting off the first foot of line to eliminate any nicks or cuts from previous use. Next, pull off two feet or so and run your fingers up the line feeling for any nicks or roughness. If none are found, take the two foot section and give it a good snap or tug. If the line breaks easily, some of the line or all of the line needs to be changed.

Repeat this farther up the line, until you feel confident the line is ok. If the line needs to be changed, remove half of the spool of line and tie on to the existing line. This saves some fishing line and saves time.

Who wants to hook a fish and have the line break?

Fishing Rods
Check Fishing rods for broken, chipped or dirty eyelets. This in my opinion is one of the most overlooked items. A broken, chipped or dirty eyelet can cause line breakage and casting problems.  Inspect the rod for broken guides and dirty eyelets. Check the eyelets by running a queue tip in side the eyelet. The queue tip should slide easily around and though the eyelet. If not, check for nicks or just dirt in the eyelet. A good way to clean guides is by using reel oil. I use the Speedy reel oil for this also. It cleans eyelets well and helps casting distance and feel.

Check your tackle
Check your tackle for proper amount of items weights, hooks, fishing lures etc. Restock before your next trip. Next, check lure hooks for sharpness. Use a pen hook sharpener and touch up the hooks. Who wants to miss a fish because of a dull hook?

Now that all the equipment is in order, itís time to figure out a place to go.

Search websites, log books and magazines for fishing information
First, I like to start by checking my fishing log I have kept over the years to see how I did in the past, what conditions were like, what worked and didnít work for that particular weekend. I find a fishing log is a valuable tool to help in this process. It gives you good insight, and keeps you honest. But, donít rely on it totally. Just because a certain pattern or lure worked or didnít work does not mean it will be the same the next time.

Next, I check fishing related websites i.e. www.futurebass.com, www.utlimatebass.com, www.fishin.com for fishing reports, discussions, and articles. Here you can find a lot of valuable information. Information such as what conditions are like, what patterns are working, and maybe the types of lures that have been effective. Check for recent tournament results also. These results can give you insight to how fishing has been lately on a particular body of water. Donít forget to post questions on these sites. Many times there are other anglers out there who could give you some good information to help in this process.

Another good idea is to do a search on the website. Check for past articles, tournament results, discussions etc. These past articles can give you some good insight also.

Check your state fisheries websites for fishing reports, types and numbers of fish located in the body of water you plan on fishing. By, knowing the types of fish located in a particular body of water will help you determine what to fish for i.e. smallmouth, Largemouth, KY bass. Also, knowing the type of forage in the body of water will help you know the choices the fish have to feed on. Thus helping you match like lures.

Donít forget to call or ask someone at the marina about recent fishing. This can sometimes be a very good resource of information.

Read magazines, books or articles on websites to refresh yourself on textbook patterns for the season you are fishing.

Study maps and lunar tables
Study your maps for creek channels, points, pockets and depth changes etc.

Depending on the time of year you are fishing; determine if daytime morning, midday, afternoon or even night would be best.

Consult lunar tables for best times, sun and moon phases.

Check the weather
Check the weather for the location you plan on fishing. Be aware of weather patterns throughout the week. This will also help determine fishing conditions, and help you be prepared for the weather.

Gather information and take notes
Gather all the information you have found. Possibly jot down some notes about what you feel is the most important information. Make a list of types of lures you plan on using first

Pick locations
Decide on locations to fish first and other locations you feel would be a good back up. Remember on large bodies of water you canít possibly fish all of it in one day. So, narrow your choices down and fish sections, or areas.

After you determine the areas you want to fish; mark them down on your map. If you know the body of water well, then maybe just a mental note of where you want to start your fishing will work.

Prepare equipment
Prepare your rods with lures you have confidence in. Tie on lures that cover a lot of water quickly. Such as a top water lure (if it is the right season), spinnerbait, or crankbait. Pick color patterns that best fit the season such as shad patterns if you know fish are most likely feeding on baitfish or crawdad patterns if they tend to be feeding on craws.

Another good idea, with the new Secret Weapon Lures www.SecretWeaponLures.com spinnerbaits, is to keep some quick clip interchangeable blades in different sizes, shapes and colors in your pocket. This will save you time by switching to a different blade in seconds, to help quickly find out what the fish want. 

These faster moving lures can help you determine fairly quickly if the fish are in a positive, neutral, or negative mood. Also, this will help you find the areas the fish are located. This should help you pattern the fish quicker, other than in the winter months in most states.

Also, prepare a few rods with a jig, and soft plastics like worms, lizards, and tubes. For picking out jigs, use those best suited for the type of water to be fished. An example is to use rock jigs if there is a lot of rock in the body of water or if there is a lot of weed in the body of water use grass jigs. I like using the ďRock jigĒ by All Terrain Tackle www.AllTerrainTackle.com  and their ďGrass jigĒ in weedy lakes. These jigs are specially designed for these types of conditions. Remember, jigs also tend to be big bass catchers and can produce a fish of a lifetime. These types of lures are great for slowing down and working and area or to fish a particular piece of cover.

Check the weather again
Donít forget to check the weather again the night or morning before, to make sure conditions will be safe to venture out. Also, the weather forecast could have possibly changed, and a few adjustments may be in order.

All these things take a lot of time, but can be done during the week when you canít be on the water. This time spent off the water will save valuable fishing time on the water.

The Start of your day
Start your day on the water fishing the areas you marked on the map or made a mental note of. Be careful not to quickly change your mind when you arrive, without testing your plan first. Unless conditions are radically different than what you had planned on.

Many times your first instincts are correct, but they just need a little tweaking.

After you have determined the areas the fish are in, fish the areas again. This time slow down and work the area thoroughly. This many times will produce more fish. By fishing over an area again; you can pickup the fish that were missed by the first quick pass through the area. Pay attention to what happened when you got a bite. Note exactly what you were doing. This can be very helpful in patterning the fish for the day.

Make changes if need be
Donít forget to make subtle changes to find out what the fish like best. A good example of this would be to try different speeds or stop and go with crankbaits. Also, maybe a simple blade change on a spinnerbait could work wonders.

If after fishing quickly with faster moving lures for a certain amount of time, with little or no bites; consider slowing down and using jigs and soft plastics. Determine the best possible areas the fish should be in according to the season.

Ask others and pay attention
Ask other anglers how their day is going. This sometimes can be an indication to how the fishing is for that particular day.

Be aware of what areas and presentations other anglers are fishing. This also can help you determine the areas or presentations you should be or shouldnít be fishing. Try something different when fishing behind other anglers. Show the fish a different presentation or lure. This can sometimes trigger strikes.

Check for tournament results if any
After your fishing day is over, check to see if there was a tournament. Go to the weigh-in if possible, or check for results later on. This can be a real eye opener and some good information. This can help you learn if you were doing something right that day or you missed something.

Make a record of your dayís fishing
Remember to record your days fishing good or bad. Record any information you feel is important. Some examples of good information would be; water temps, water depths areas fished, presentations used, and weather conditions. This information may come in handy in the future.

Give a report
Visit the websites you got information from. Thank those who helped give you helpful information. Give a fishing report, and help others who are looking for information. You donít have to tell them the exact spot, color lure or give your secrets away! This kind of information is very helpful to others. Help others as they have helped you.