Improve Your Fishing: Search for New Waters

It happens to all of us at some point or another. We get complacent, catching the same fish in the same waters because it is familiar. It is always good to force yourself to find new waters in order to challenge and sharpen your skills. Half the battle is the preparation leading up to wetting your line. Following these steps will give you the greatest success for open water or ice fishing unfamiliar waters.

Your research starts behind your keyboard

Your computer, phone or tablet hold a wealth of information and most of it is free. If you are not sure what body of water you are starting with, Google Earth is your friend. You can quickly scan areas within a few hours from home to see if any bodies of waters call to you. This tool will allow you to see many things, such as how the parking situation is laid out. (This can be important if you need to disconnect your trailer from your vehicle to park.) You can look for structure on the water: bridges, docks, points, islands, depth changes (color changes in the water), creek channels, timber and more.

Have a notebook handy and take notes. Save snapshots of areas of the lake and save them to your phone to have on the water. Check to see if there are any bait shops near the lake, you can call and ask questions about the bite, what’s working as far as colors, water temps, and see if they have paper maps of the lake. A paper map seems old school, but it’s quite helpful on the water. It may show structure that isn’t on your map chip and you can add notes to it while on the water.

Search internet fishing forums

Fishing forums and Facebook fishing groups can prove to be valuable. Lake-Link.com is a great tool, it will show you a rough map of the lake, some lake details, current weather with sunrise/sunset, air temp, water temp, winds and pressure. Most importantly, it is a fishing forum. You will find current fishing reports from other anglers and guides. I caution you to take some of the reports with a grain of salt. There are anglers out there that will try to throw others off of the bite. If you research, you will be able to weed through and find the reports that are more reputable.

Search for other fishing forums pertaining to the lake you have chosen and compare data. It’s a great idea to make sure you have the lake you choose on your map chip. Starting your unit up in the garage to check out the map is a great idea to get you more acclimated before you head out on the water.

While you are searching online, be sure you are licensed to fish in the state you are planning to fish. You can purchase fishing licenses by going to the DNR website for that state. Once you are on the DNR website, familiarize yourself with the rules/laws for that body of water. If you are planning to keep fish, know the limits, ignorance is not an excuse.

Phone apps

While these suggestions are just that, they are not necessarily a must but can be very helpful and, frankly, they are pretty cool tools. Navionics is an amazing tool. I have used it on the ice and open-water fishing. This app is one you will have to purchase, but it is worth every cent. You can set waypoints, it gives you contours, marks launch sites, bridges, no-wake areas and much more.

Another very useful tool that has caught my eye recently is an app called Anglr. The short of it is that it is a “fishing intelligence” tool. It is a free app, but you will need to purchase the tracker. It is created by anglers, for anglers and it is a fishing logbook. This app will collect data for you. Data such as: GPS routes, winds, weather conditions, moon phases, time, set waypoints where you can add photos of the fish you caught and so much more. The data is stored to your app so you can access it anywhere and anytime. All you do is push a button on the tracker, one click marks a fish, two clicks will mark a waypoint.

Now can I fish?

Yes, now it’s time to put together your arsenal. You should have an educated plan and shouldn’t have to bring the kitchen sink with you on your trip. We all have our own set of unique skills on the water, start with what you know and you will figure out the bite. Don’t attack the entire lake in one day. For example, start small, find a bay and fish in, around and outside of it. Concentrate on areas that have multiple targets for the species you are searching for. Racing around a lake, back and forth while throwing everything you have is just going to frustrate you and you won’t want to go back. Start with search-type baits that cover a lot of water and areas of the water column. Pay attention to everything surrounding a bite, water temperature, depth, was there an abundance of bait, etc. Now you can take that information and try to duplicate it in other areas of the lake.

Once you are on the water, your most important job is to have fun! Carefully handle fish and release them properly and quickly back to the water. Remember to always take care of the waterways by not littering in or around them and it’s perfectly acceptable to pick up other garbage that someone else left to ensure that we have these beautiful fisheries around for a long time to enjoy.