UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Weekend Angler: Off the Water Practice

Weekend Angler: Off the Water Practice
Todd Walters slings a worm.

(Editor’s Note: Todd Walters is a veteran BFL angler from North Carolina. Walters qualified for the BFL All-American in 2013 and 2015. The writer's opinions and observations expressed here are his own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policies or positions of FLW.)

Of all the excuses I hear fisherman use when it comes to fishing tournaments, the one that intrigues me the most is, "I haven't been out that much, so I couldn't practice." There is no substitute for time on the water – that is not debatable – but there are things that can be done to assist you in your weekend efforts if you can’t spend every free moment on the water. Below you’ll find just a few tips to hopefully help you become a more efficient angler.

 

Fishing websites

There are a million sites out there – some good, some bad. You have to use your judgement. No matter what site you choose the end game is to learn more about new things. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. As anglers we are all guilty of falling into that trend. But by opening your mind and learning new ways to catch them you’d be amazed at how much you will grow as an angler.

The Internet has multiple websites with up-to-date techniques that your competition is likely not doing. For example, most people will catch fish on a football jig during a certain time from main-lake points, so that’s what they are going to do this year. There is a reason people are getting creative with baits and techniques, and there is always something new out there. Fish aren't smart, but they do get conditioned to eating the wrong thing.

New baits like the A-rig, Ben Parker’s Magnum spoon, hair jigs and crankbaits that dive 20-plus-feet deep are all being used with lots of success. If you are not willing to learn new things, you will get left in the dust. 

Want to expedite your learning experience? Go to YouTube, type in your search words and there is a 90% chance someone has a video posted "how to" video for exactly what you are looking for.

 

Do your homework 

Putting your time in on places like Google Earth or studying paper maps can go a long ways. Even simple things like pulling up a lake map on your fish finder to search for a new spot cane help give you a competitive edge. I can't tell you how many times I have looked at historical data on Google Earth and found something so obvious I wanted to slap myself for missing it the first time. By using the historical data on satellite images you can see structure that may not be visible to the naked eye or easily found with electronics.

Here in the south we fish mostly man-made lakes. These lakes can fluctuate 10 to 20 feet depending on the lake and the season. Google provides a timeline and satellite photos to scroll back through allowing you to see how the lake has changed over the years. You may luck out and get a pretty picture of your lake when the water was 10 feet low, exposing underwater hiding places. Take your cursor, place it on the target and look at the bottom of the screen. Those are the exact GPS coordinates of what you’re looking at. From there, plug them into your GPS and go fish it.   

 

Document data

I am my own worst enemy at doing this, but I am getting better. Keep a journal – electronic or in a notebook – of past success. Document weather, water temperature, barometric pressure, water clarity, the pattern and baits that helped you find success. It also helps if you organize it by season or even month. By referring to past history, you may be able to remember the exact moment you wrote that note and the lightbulb may flip on helping you connect the dots for a pattern.

Lastly, don’t overlook the moon phases. This could be a whole separate topic – and some may call shenanigans on this – but there is definitely a correlation between moon phases and fish activity. 

 

Weather

This one is pretty obvious, but aside from figuring out if it is going to rain or not, take a look at what the weather has been doing and what it is going to do. Are the conditions pre-frontal? Post-frontal? Stable? Is there a high-pressure or low-pressure system moving through? Did it rain four inches over the past week on your historically clear lake? All of these things need to be considered before heading out on your next fishing trip.

Don’t forget about wind. Which direction has it been blowing and how hard? Also, what is the wind supposed to do on your next outing? The weatherman is never usually 100 percent right – we all know that. Still, it is better to have a game plan in mind for the way the wind is supposed to blow than nothing at all. Oh, and always be prepared for the wind to change throughout the day. 

 

Learn your electronics

It’s as simple as reading the manual for your particular unit. I don't know of any electronics company that sends out units to their customers without every option explained, and in plain English. If you bought a used boat with no electronics information, there’s a good chance its out on the Internet - easily viewable, downloadable and printable. If you can't find it, call the electronics company and they'll get you one. Go sit in your driveway and learn by trial and error (that’s how I did it).

If you can use your electronics effectively, you can know what you are looking at and find aggressive fish fast. Again, there are classes you can take and plenty of YouTube videos for learning. The information is right at your fingertips, you just have to be motivated enough to find it and learn it.

 

Good ol’ magazines

My wife hates the fact that I do not throw out magazines. Everyone keeps a stack of magazines in the rest room, for "personal time." I always have five or six magazines that relate to the time of year I’m in and swap them out by season. This has led to revisiting certain areas, or maybe a technique that I tried once before, didn't have success, but wanted to try again. Whatever the reason, my brain can only handle so much capacity, so I forget a lot of information and this is a great way to revisit it.

There is no substitute for time on the water. As a guy that works during the week, and cannot practice for every tournament, using the above information has helped me find success. I hope it helps you too. 

-Todd Walters

Tags: bfl  todd-walters  blog 

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