Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle

Going fishing is a chancy thing, right?  You may or may not connect with fish.  Is there anything that will increase your chances of finding fish — besides a GPS (Ground Positioning System)?

Amazing Tools

Finding fish can be a lot like ‘Russian Roulette’ – everything depending on chance.  However, once I learned about the lake maps where I fished, things changed.

There are a variety of maps available, depending on the popularity of the body of water where you want to fish.

The most common ones are available from the local bait or tackle shop.  They are also available online (Google: list the name of the body of water + map) from map companies and (often) your state fishing department.

In some areas, you can get them from the local fisheries.   I’ve even seen them offered by County Extension Agencies.

What Kind of Maps?

Maps offer differing information.  A contour map shows the contours of the water where you want to fish.  Here’s a simple contour map of Balsam Lake in New York).

This map indicates the shallow edges of the lake, where the water drops to 5 feet and where the deep hole is at 10 feet.

Most bodies of water have a number of deep holes and sand bars and the contour map will indicate them.

The Latest Lake Survey Map

This useful map has a wealth of info:  game fish available, aquatic vegetation types (their locations and which fish call them home), water quality, and much more.

One of the most useful features might just be the information on the forage fish populations.  If the game fish are bass, then knowing which fish they use for food will help you select likely baits and a successful strategy for fishing.

Keeping a Log

Second to the maps in value, to my mind, is keeping a log of fishing experiences.  Things I include in my log:

  • Type of water,
  • Season,
  • Water temperature
  • Cover type (sandy bottom, sparse vegetation, are examples)
  • Structural patterns (if any)
  • Water level,*
  • Water depth,
  • Water clarity,
  • Time of day

I’m amazed how quickly I forget important facts.  Without my log, I wouldn’t be able to learn nearly as much from my past experiences.


* If you find that the water level has dropped, most likely the fish have moved to deeper water.  If the water level has risen, the fish are likely to have moved to shallow areas.


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Published in: on July 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm  Comments Off on Critical Fishing Tools: Besides a Rod, Reel & Tackle  
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How Do Underwater Structures Affect Fishing?

Knowing About Under-ground Structures Helps You Catch More Fish!

This article is a continuation of some interesting points in Tim Lilley’s book, Ultralight Fishing. *

The previous article is here:  Catching Fish with Ultralight Tackle

Lilley takes pains to explain the value of having a topographical map of any body of water you plan to fish.  Each body of water has unique structures that will affect fishing.

Structures That Affect Fishing

Topographical maps show “the lay of the land” — in this case — underwater.  The map will show shallow areas versus sharp drop-offs (into deep pools).

This is important because fish move into deep pools when the shallow water gets too warm and they stay in deep pools during cold weather (because it is a consistent temperature).

Smallmouth Bass are notorious for living in submerged rock piles.  If your topographical map indicates a rock formation, it’s an area that you can investigate.

Fishing Underground Structures

Most fishing books talk about finding predatory fish.  Why?  If you are going after a predatory fish, he’s larger than his supper, thus a bit higher up the food chain.

Also, since these predators are looking for a “meal deal,”  they are hungry and likely to attack an attractive bait or lure.

Your task is to figure out what he’s in the mood to eat  — and serve it up on the end of your line.

Using Your GPS While Fishing **

When you are successful in a day’s fishing, it’s a great idea to use your GPS** to mark any hotspots you find.

Lilley also makes a point that with a GPS device, you are never really lost on a large body of water (or anywhere else).

Matching Lures with Structures

Lilley’s suggestion for fishing around a deep drop-off is to use a plastic worm.  He lets it free fall to the bottom.

Because it only weighs 1/4 ounce,  it will take a long time for the worm to drop, thus having the lure in front of  fish for the greatest time, while the fish decides how to react!


Next Time: More about Fishing Around Underground Structures


* Ultralight Fishing, Tim Lilley, Creative Publishing, 2005.

** GPS = Global Positioning System.  A device to mark your good fishing spots.  These systems use the space satellites  to mark the coordinates of a spot (longitude and latitude).  It’s a snap to find them again later.


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