This is the second installment on becoming a better fisherman
This time, let's talk about paying attention to detail on the water to build confidence and become aware of what conditions mean. There are some basic indicators you can look at every time you fish, but there are also a myriad of smaller indicators that can be just as useful as the obvious things.
No matter what you fish for, you should make note of the basics each time you fish. The basics are weather, time of year, moon and if you are fishing in the ocean, tide. Whether you track these factors mentally or in a log book, if you are taking your fishing seriously, you need to start paying attention to these factors as your basic indicators.
I know when I picked up Bill Murphy's book on trophy bass, the first thing I did was look in the table of contents, find his section on moon phases and look at what he had to say. I didn't do it because I was going to accept whatever he said as the gospel on moon phases. I just wanted to see how what he thought compared to what I thought. I ask a lot of people what they think about moon phase and other conditions, and I listen with an open mind to whatever people tell me. BUT, I believe first in foremost in my own experience because in my own experience I have a native confidence that only your own personal experiences can instill in you.
Someone else could know much more about bass fishing and moon phase than I do, but what good does it do me to go out to the lake blindly believing that I will catch fish because someone else said they thought it as a good moon phase? If you don't know why somethign is good, it takes away 90% of it's value. I don't usually get the luxury of picking my days to fish, but if I look at my own experiences and believe that I am going to hit on a good day because of the moon phase, my confidence goes way up. That's important.
So, that is the first part, and really the easy part. Paying attention to the obvious conditions that you can track on weather.com, or by looking at a calendar or a tide book. The less obvious part is the subtle conditions. Subtle conditions could be anything. It could be a certain kind of plant blooming on the shore. It could be a 1" drop in water level. It could be a slight difference in water color, or a little current that runs around a point. It could be 2 birds sitting on the water in the open ocean, or the way when a wave rolls back out off the shore and creates a deep pocket of water. I can't sit here and write down all these micro-conditions because they are are so varied depending on where you are. But what you can do as a fisherman, is take that extra minute to look around between casts to get a good look around shuffle those mental notes into the archives for the future.
It's also just as important to note these little things when it's bad fishing as when it's good fishing. Being able to identify a bad condition and change locations is a great strength of the best fisherman. I have so much to learn in this regard. It takes years upon years of experience to learn this kind of stuff. What also differentiates the good fisherman from the great is that the really awesome sticks can recognize the windows within a day when fish are really going to bite. Party boat captains, deck hands, and professional bass fisherman are often times really good at recognizing these windows and making the most of them. That's an experience thing, but it's experience learned by paying attention to counteless small details.
So when you're on the water, get your polaroid glasses on, pull the brim of your hat up a little so you can look around and start really paying attention to the details of the conditions. It may take a long time to start identifying the indicators of your success, but there are things at each lake, river, or section of ocean that you can look at that will tell you when you are going to experience good or bad fishing. Make mental notes especially about seasonal conditions. As the seasons change the landscape above and below the water changes. Look not only at the water but at the land and the sky and the sun. Compare these conditions year over year. The day will come when you will get to the lake and you will not just think you are going to get bit that day, you