Anything Fly Fishing

5 Tips for Finding Fishing Spots and Catching More

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I am a husband, a dad, and I work full-time. I also like to fish. But like most men who wear the same hats, I wonder how I might fish more often and more effectively. What usually happens is we wake up early, maybe have a couple cups of coffee, then make our way to the nearest body of water where we know they’re at. Then we spend more time in the car untangling our lines from disuse.

These experiences have taught me five things that will help you fish more, catch more, and your wife won’t get mad at you! It’s a win-win-win!

1. Google Maps your Spot.

All this water is right off of the main highway in the area between two housing areas. If you google map your area, you will find areas like this nearby. Also don’t discount subdivision ponds; they often hold great fish!

You’re probably asking why I am suggesting Google Maps over say an app like Fishbrain or Fishing Spots-fish Maps. Don’t get me wrong, those apps are great ways to go. And almost all the fishing apps I looked up while writing this have a free option. However, as useful as these apps can be they do come with a downside. They will microcharge you for more information about the spot you’re looking at, hit you with ads, and, in general, unless you opt for a monthly plan, the information is not much better than if you did the research yourself.

They are dependent on the information uploaded by users and let’s be real, no fishermen tell lies about what they caught or what they caught it on, right? But sometimes my memory does get a little fuzzy when telling my buddies where I caught the biggest bass of my life.

If you are like me, I prefer to spend my money on bait and tackle to catch fish instead of an app that tells me where some fish might be. That is why I prefer Google Maps. For starters, it’s an easy way to find water; they highlight it in blue. I recommend starting out looking in the area around your home, or on the route to and from your job. You will be amazed at how much water you drive by that might hold fish. The 2nd step is to switch to satellite view and use it the app to determine if there is accessibility. You can also throw the little man icon on the road nearest the water for a street view. Just remember nothing beats doing a drive-by.

You see now why I say start looking between areas you commonly travel by. The third thing I look at is the water color in the satellite view. If it’s brown, then your water clarity will likely be nil to none. But if it is black, or varying shades from dark to light, then you are looking at decent clarity. Drop a pin make a note and bring your tackle for a dangle. You might catch something.

2. Don’t pass up water.

There are 168 hours in a week. If you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night and work 40 hours a week you have 72 hours left. My time is limited. That is why tip #2 is “do not pass up water.” To get the most fishing it is important to spend less time in the car getting where you want to fish. Remember you won’t catch fish if your line isn’t wet. Most bodies of water, no matter the size, will hold fish, especially if they’re connected to a larger one. These small bodies of water generally hold the same fish as the larger ones, they’re connected to. Check your local department of wildlife to see what might be holding in the little creek you drive by all the time.

3. Downsize

The saying goes, “big fish big bait.” The funny thing about fish is they don’t seem to know this rule. I caught the largest trout of my life on a size 14 feather micky finn. It was tattered and beat up from stick fish when I was first learning to fly fish. But when I ran it right in front of the beast’s nose, it took it and nearly ripped the rod out of my hands.

Understand that most of these small waterways you drive by do not have a lot in the way of live bait. That means fish must eat a lot to get to any size and beggars can’t be choosers. And as much as I hate to admit it, fish that tip the scales in a big way are also rare in these little creeks and ponds. They exist, but they are not the rule. So, to catch more fish you must be okay with catching smaller fish. And smaller fish need bait they can handle. It’s not the size that counts, it’s just getting out there.

4. Don’t leave home without your rod.

Caught this nice bluegill on my way home from work.

Fly rods excel here! They all break down into at least two pieces and will fit nicely in any car or truck. And unless you’re living on the sun, your ride heating up during the summer does not affect the coated fly line. Just keep it out of the direct sunlight if you’re not storing it in a case.

I keep three rods in my truck a 2, 5, and 7 wt fly rod. In my area, I have a chance, even in the small streams, to find carp and gar. What you keep handy will largely depend on what is in the area you are fishing. I also recommend a sling pack with the small Plano boxes that fit in them. You can’t make a pit stop after work if your gear is not in the vehicle. In my opinion, this should be cheap, it should be simple, and it should be light.

I keep the following in mine:

  1. Flys stored in plano boxes keep shape better and are compact enough to fit in a sling pack.

    leader material. I use 9’ or 6’ chemically tapered leaders from the local fly shop. I keep tippet but rarely if at all drop below 3x in my local waters. I have also just gone with straight 10-pound fluorocarbon. Consider using shorter than average leaders to make casting in tight quarters easier.

  2. This might be fly fishing sacrilege, but I do keep split shot and an indicator or two. Just in case. I do not weigh my flies heavily because the waters around me are shallow and slow-moving. If I do find a deeper pool that might hold fish, I will add weight.
  3. Bass flies like the yarn senko, double barrel popper, and small streamers like the micky finn, are finesse gamechangers. Bass are the most sought-after game fish in this country and are found everywhere. You shouldn’t leave home without a couple of flies that target them.
  4. Nippers and forceps.
  5. Carp flies, dries like the Adams or Royal Wulf, and blue gill bullies will catch everything. Once you figure out what’s in your area you can tailor your box by species. I also use this time to test some new flies out.

Tip within a Tip: I go with bright colors because most of the water I fish is low visibility. You should match the colors of your flys to what you typically see. When in doubt go with natural colors.

5. Be willing to move around.

This does not mean leaving the spot you’re in to go to another spot you have to drive to. It just means exploring the water you found. Walk the bank or hop the stream. Search for the pockets of water that are deeper and will likely hold more fish. A good pair of sunglasses and a hat will help you see the fish you are after. You are hunting, so you must make your path intersect with that of your intended prey. If one pocket of water isn’t producing, move on to the next. If you see that the bait you’re using is bigger than most of the fish you are seeing, then downsize. But none of this information is discovered by standing still. As you get to know the spot you will start to go directly to the places that hold fish and therefore catch more. Moving to another spot completely is a last-ditch effort to find fish. So, if you must move then do, but remember, don’t drive past water to find water.

6. Bonus! Buy Flowers

My son and I at a local pond

I told you in the beginning that you could fish more, and your wife would not get mad at you. Well, buy her flowers! This can take many forms. It can be candy, a surprise date night, or as mentioned, good ole’ fashion flowers. I also highly recommend taking kids with you occasionally. It will give her a break, get you fishing, and your kids will have a blast exploring the shoreline with you.

When you bring your kids along, it’s about creating a fun time for them. Yes, you’re going to fish, but if yours end up playing in the water catching frogs or turning over rocks and they’re having fun, let them. What they will remember is the fun they had with you. So, when you tell them to ‘saddle up and let’s go fishing,’ they will be excited to go. Eventually, you’ll have great fishing buddies and a wall full of ‘trophy’ pictures. And your wife will be happier about the occasional stops to wet a line.

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