There are two types of fishermen, those who are simply in it for a fresh feed of fish, and those who view angling as a continuous pursuit of knowledge.
Casual fishing with the aim of simply getting out there and hopefully wrangling a few fish for a feed can be rewarding, but equally exasperating when a few of the pieces of the puzzle fail to come together.
Sure, it’s possible to luck into a hot bite here and there, but the angler that continually goes in blind without much of an idea of conditions or target species will go fishless most of the time.
String a few ‘doughnut’ sessions back to back, and most prospective fishos are hit with two options: give up, or get better.
Choosing to get better at fishing is a decision that can take many forms, and it certainly doesn’t have to be an academic pursuit.
There’s endless printed and online resources out there for those who want to read up and bolster their theoretical knowledge, but a great way to get started is to simply hitch a ride on the coattails of other anglers.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, so organising a fishing session or tagging along with mates that have spent more time on the water can be a great way to lock down the basics and start seeing some results.
BEATING THE PLATEAU
Having acquired a basic skillset, a lot of anglers will start seeing some better results, but these can quickly plateau into mediocrity without further attention.
When targeting heavily fished waters or fishing outside of ideal light and tide conditions, it’s very common for catch rates to be less than spectacular.
If you’re dreaming of making an epic catch, but are more often encountering undersized fish and struggling to bring home a legal haul, it’s time to start focusing on the details.
Very few fishermen are knowledgeable and skilled at all types of angling. In fact, almost all of the best anglers are really just masters of one or two types of fishing.
Targeting a handful of species with just a couple of techniques, over and over again until they begin to experience consistent success. Beating the plateau means picking a species that you’ve got the time and means of fishing for regularly, and honing your skills using just one or a couple of techniques.
PICK A SPECIES
While you might find yourself dreaming of catching a trophy sportfish like a marlin, big tuna or giant jewfish, it’s probably worth asking yourself how realistic of a target such a ‘glamour’ species might be, given where you live and your own circumstances.
They say that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to truly master a skill, and if you’ll only realistically be able to go big game fishing a couple of hours per month, well, it could take a couple of lifetimes before you become a master marlin fisherman.
There are, however, a truly massive number of species that inhabit our coastal waters and estuaries, freshwater rivers, streams and impoundments.
Australian fishos have more choice when it comes to target species than anglers just about anywhere in the world. Whether it’s flathead, bream, squid, whiting, bass, trout or barra, find a species that inhabits your local waters and get to work figuring it out.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
Once you’ve narrowed in on a species that inhabits your local waters, it’s time to start thinking like this fish. Not just fantasising about catching one, but rather working out its habits, habitat and how it feeds.
Once you’ve got a solid idea of how a species behaves and hunts in general and within your local waterway specifically, it’s infinitely simpler to fathom where it might be and when, and thus formulate an effective strategy to target and catch it with consistency.
Choosing a less ‘glamorous’ and thus more lightly fished for target species like bream or luderick, sand whiting or calamari squid is a great starting point to upping your catch rate and improving your overall skill as an angler.
Not only will perfecting your approach to targeting a single species for a period of time reap rewards in terms of regular tasty seafood dinners, but allow you to learn skills that can later be applied to any type of fishing.