How To Enjoy Lake Fishing: A Guide For Beginners
Still-water fishing is a passion that can become an obsession for those who live on a lake. If you live on a large lake or series of joined lakes, you can spend a lifetime discovering the thrills of still water fishing.
Below are a few tips on lake fishing to assist those new to the game or who just want a set of criteria for figuring out the bite:
- Structure: All fish relate to structure under the water. Structure can be points, rock piles, fallen timber, channels, drop offs, weed lines, docks, floating dive platforms, and creeks that flow into the main lake. On most lakes much of the fishable structure is man-made. For example, fish relate to docks, channels and dams. Learning how to fish around structure is a key to successful lake fishing.
- Water temperature: freshwater fish, being cold blooded have an optimal temperature which turns on their drive to actively feed. Some species like trout and pike prefer cooler temperatures in the mid 50's to mid 60's. They will retreat to deeper water in the summer months to stay comfortable. On the other hand, largemouth bass and the sunfishes can tolerate much warmer waters into the high 80's and can be found in the shallows throughout the summer.
- Perhaps the most important thing overlooked by even the most experience anglers is understanding prey species. What are the game fish feeding on? Is the main forage in your lake insects, crustaceans, or other fish? The answer is: all of the above. Studying the forage species will pay huge dividends when other anglers are struggling. Here's a tip: The next time you catch a fish open the stomach and you'll discover exactly what they want to eat. And their preference changes with each season. Sometimes it changes with the time of day especially when aquatic insects are on the menu.
There are tons of great books on these subjects and you can spend a lifetime learning to be a better angler. It's highly addictive. Talk to other anglers and observe them on the water. Find a reputable fishing shop (a gas station that also sells bait doesn't qualify) and talk to them. The only stupid question is the one you didn't ask.
There is a lot of great technology out there for the fisherman. GPS units (yes like the one in your car) are used to map and mark your location so you can return to the exact spot you located fish. They are also nice for getting you back to the dock in the fog. Electronic fish finders help you locate schools of fish using sonar. These are nice tools but nothing can take the place of time on the water. Keep a fishing log that denotes date, time, moon phase, water temperature, and location and be religious about it. You'll be happy you did.