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Why do I struggle to find and catch fish?


KameronG

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31 minutes ago, WRB said:

3 years on the water is enough time to learn the basics of bass fishing.

 Let compare quality learning to time under competitive pressure. A tournament angler is expected to know how to catch bass or he wouldn’t be in the derby.

Like a new golfer who wants to learn golf and buys a bag of clubs and few dozen balls then sigh s up for a club tournament. Having zero golfing skills it doesn’t matter how many years he golfs his score may never improve. The new golfer needs to go to the driving range and hire a skilled instructor and develop his skills before entering a tournament.

I am offering to be the instructor.

Tom

 

 

Sign me up Tom.  I'll bring the boat.  

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9 hours ago, casts_by_fly said:


said to the guy that is trying to fish tournaments…

I fell into the social media trap when I was heavy into musky fishing. You only see one side of the story.  I want to do a tournament just because I’ve never done one. I also really enjoy fishing that section of river.

 

8 hours ago, gimruis said:

I tried pickleball for the first time in my life last winter and picked up on it in under 10 minutes.

 

Granted, I’ve played and excelled at just about every other sport with a racquet or paddle for most of my life…

That’s a big help. I was more talking in the lines of if you have never seriously done anything like it in the past. There are always exceptions some people are crazy talented at anything they touch. For us mere mortals though we have to stick with it awhile.

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Buying a ton of new stuff is never the answer 

what are your primary baits that you feel confident with?

And more importantly you need to focus on areas that lend themselves to be productive big fish holding spots 

 

Don’t beat yourself up over it, that will never do you any good.

confidence in your abilities is key….

knowing that if you find them, you can get them to bite.

If you fish the northeast I’m sure I could be of some help

 

D~

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Find bait on your electronics. A wise man once said you may find shad without Bass but you'll never find Bass without shad. 

Going down the bank aimlessly will yield a few stragglers but your odds greatly improve by finding them bunched up.

There are times when they will scatter ,when they are starting to pull up shallow but still look for the bait. 

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10 hours ago, gimruis said:

I tried pickleball for the first time in my life last winter and picked up on it in under 10 minutes.

 

LOL. I have a gold star here somewhere, pickleball is the Tic Tac Toe of Racquet/Paddle sports... :) 

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46 minutes ago, Deleted account said:

pickleball is the Tic Tac Toe of Racquet/Paddle sports

Ya I could see pretty quickly I needed to find better competition.

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Best suggestion that I can give you is to empty your mind of all the lessons learned and all the advice given and let your surroundings do the talking, let the fish tell you what they want, let the conditions guide you.....start "thinking" bigger bass and you'll eventually start catching bigger bass. 

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13 hours ago, AlabamaSpothunter said:

Time on water is absolutely everything.   Being on the actual water and just exploring trumps even the greatest resource in print or online.  

 

This bears repeating and Catt alluded to it as well.  Also, fishing with someone better than you can be very helpful.  There are far better anglers on here with more expert advice than I, but this has worked for me.  If you fish alone most of the time, I would suggest the following:

  1. Learn a small lake known to have decent sized bass first if any are available in your area.  The time on the water thing takes less time if you have less lake to learn.  Large reservoirs of a few thousand or tens of thousands of acres have lots of unproductive water and if you don't know where to look you can really get frustrated.  Become proficient on smaller lakes and then apply what you learn to larger lakes.  (Missouri's fishing app provides a list of all conservation maintained lakes.  They also periodically provide prospect reports that describe the fish population so you know the size structure of the bass in many of the lakes.  Hopefully you can find something like this online, or in an app for your state, to help you narrow down where to find larger fish.)
  2. Minimize the techniques you are trying to learn, but make sure they are in different sections of the water column to address different situations on the water.  (i.e. Don't just try a number of moving baits.  Try maybe three moving baits that cover the upper water column.  Do the same for mid-depths.  Also try slow bottom baits like T-rigged worms, creatures, and jigs when the conditions warrant it.  A couple of finesse baits would be good to learn as well.  And make sure you spend time with them to actually develop confidence in them.  If you become proficient at fishing two or three baits for each section of the water column you will be equipped to catch fish and more likely to find the bigger fish.)
  3. Develop a schedule to practice the art of casting.  Accurate casting is paramount.  I would throw in that you should at least learn the pitching technique during your casting practice (and I would learn flipping as well).  Being able to place a slow moving bait right in a small hole in brush or under a dock will increase your chances of catching bigger fish.
  4. Learn to handle your boat or fish from the bank in a stealthy manner to avoid spooking fish.  

If you think about it, all of the things mentioned above take one thing and that brings us full-circle back to time - time on the water fishing, time on the water or in your yard casting, time in the boat learning to handle it properly.  Take time and enjoy the journey.

 

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1 hour ago, senile1 said:

Become proficient on smaller lakes and then apply what you learn to larger lakes.

That's it right there, but one needs to understand how to learn. While the "time on the water" thing is very real, your headspace during that time is everything. I've been back at this long enough to see people who seem to work hard, yet never improve, or barely improve. Most seem a bit tense, frustrated quickly, and get upset easily by failure. Their adjustments, as they are, are rarely subtle, and this is a game of subtleties. Every single guy I know who can catch fish well are far more Zen about it. They're absorbing everything, especially their failures, and they don't jump to conclusions with little evidence.

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Don't be to hard on yourself.  Catching quality bass is difficult.  I checked the results of the last BASS Elite series tournament at famous big bass lake Okeechobee.   The bottom 9 Elite series pros caught 20 lbs. or less.  These are professional fisherman, with years of experience fish hundreds of days a year, have the best equipment made, and they still couldn't catch limits of big bass, while other anglers crushed them.  Anglers always want to compare their success to the winners of a tournament.  They never consider how they did compared to those at the bottom of the leaderboard.  After three years of bass fishing, if you finish in the middle you are doing excellent. 

      I have bass fished for many years, and consider myself an average bass angler.  I have never fished in a tournament, but if I did, would be very happy to place somewhere in the middle of the field, but would not be surprised if I ended up dead last.  I have a friend who out fishes me almost every time we go, and it has been that way for over 40 years.  He is simply a better natural fisherman than I am.  Both of us love to fish, and have fun every time we have a line in the water.  I try to learn something every time we go, he claims to already know everything, but in reality without even trying he learns from mistakes, I don't even notice.  I wont tell him that, because he is fine with me claiming he is plain lucky. 

     Go fishing as often as you can, have fun, celebrate your successes, and laugh at your mistakes.  Try to learn something from every trip, and before long people will be asking you what you do to catch all of those big bass.

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Wow, a lot of great suggestions.  My take is simple, you’ve figured out the small fish….now figure out the tournament size fish.  They don’t run together.  Not knowing your bodies of water, I can’t tell you where to go but I can tell you the big girls will eat the same thing the smaller fish do so lure selection is on the back burner.  

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17 hours ago, ironbjorn said:

Agreed.

 

But he's saying he can't compete, meaning the other guys are catching and he isn't. The problem can be any number of things we don't have any information on.

I've experienced this from both sides. Fishing Okeechobee 2 years ago I was flat out hammering them on a Lipless. My Bud couldn't buy a bite. I gave him my bait, he switched from Braid to Fluoro, changed reel ratio, and still wasn't catching anything. 

A few years ago on the Susquehanna I couldn't buy a bite throwing the same Spinnerbait my Bud was throwing and I was getting first cast at everything. I know he out fished me 10-1. Probably the most frustrating day I've ever spent on the water. I finally started throwing a Stick Bait. Brian. 

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I'm not even sure the OP is still participating in this forum.

 

however, i feel we dont have enough information to formulate an all out guess.  

 

i do know, skunks and nursery fish can be bad, but its totally worse when everyone else around is kicking butt.  

 

i say:

1. poor fishing location

2. bad casting.

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The old saying is it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.  And there are a lot of expert anglers in this world.  Most aren't even professionals.  

 

What are you doing wrong?  That's hard to say.  But I'll offer the same advice that I'd give to anyone else in this situation, be it an athlete, artist, musician, whatever.  Find people who are better than you and learn from them.  Maybe try to find one of these tournament anglers see if you can tag along from time to time and find out what they're doing differently.  See if you can get one to take you under their wing.  A lot of times the people who have really excelled at something like to pass their knowledge on to others, especially of a younger generation.  It was likely an important step that someone else gave to them which helped them get to where they are now.  So many won't mind paying it forward.  Though... some like to keep their secrets, secret.  So don't be offended if you hear a few "no's" at first.  

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7 hours ago, Darnold335 said:

I fell into the social media trap when I was heavy into musky fishing. You only see one side of the story.  I want to do a tournament just because I’ve never done one. I also really enjoy fishing that section of river.

 

Fair enough.  My comment was probably more flippant than anything.

 

When I was growing up we fished club tournaments.  No prize money, strictly fun, with a ranking throughout the year.  My dad fished the occasional regional depending on the location.  If you want to compare yourself to a bunch of other anglers (see how good you are!) on a given day then a tournament is the way to do it.  If you just want to go fishing, then skip the tournament and just go fishing.  There's no wrong answer

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18 hours ago, JediAmoeba said:

Take time to learn 1 lake very well. It will take time but that information will translate to other places down the road.

This! I'm by no means an expert, and the majority of the members here know more than I do, but I've found that if I can figure out how to get on fish on one body of water in any conditions, that usually translates to other fisheries as well.

 

 The one thing I would add to this is, if you really want to be unstoppable, learn one fishery of each type well. As an example, within a half hour of me, I have a river, a natural lake, and a reservoir. My goal this year is to be able to learn each of them very well so that if I travel to another fishery, I can take what I've learned on my local fishery of that type and apply it to wherever I'm going.

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One thing that can affect catching fish is if you are a smoker and the tobacco smell is on your hands.  Wouldn't affect catching on something like a surface lure, but if the fish have time to look it over, it can really screw it up.  If  you are a smoker, give it up, at least while on the water, and wash your hands after smoking.  Lecture time from a reformed smoker:  Its not about what you are giving up; it's about what you are gaining, health and freedom.

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The OP hasn’t come back and replied to questions we all have expressed. We don’t know if he is a boater or a back seater. We don’t know the OP’s skill set, tackle being used or ability to accurately read a sonar unit.

We do know the OP catches smaller size bass then he wants to catch. We know he bass fishes for about 3 years as also tournament fishes.

I can only guess the OP catches smaller size bass because of the location and lures being used. 

Tom

 

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33 minutes ago, KSanford33 said:

This! I'm by no means an expert, and the majority of the members here know more than I do, but I've found that if I can figure out how to get on fish on one body of water in any conditions, that usually translates to other fisheries as well.


This has been my experience. Gaining confidence on one body of water definitely translates into confidence on other fisheries, which in turn results in more fish, thus increasing your confidence even more. That’s why time on the water is so valuable to becoming a better angler. You can read and research all day and night, but if you aren’t putting enough time in on the water to put some context to the information you’re receiving, it won’t do you as much good. 
 

 

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On 2/23/2023 at 5:50 AM, Bassbum1016 said:

Buying a ton of new stuff is never the answer 

Public Service Announcement 

 

This post is NOT Bait Monkey Approved. Please disregard this trash advice and continue to spend lavishly on new gear and tackle. 
 

Sincerely,

The Bait Monkey

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If I had to give one bit of advice it would be to put together as many parts of the fishing puzzle as possible.  Considering all the variables.  While time on the water is helpful putting the pieces together, you can most certainly go to a body of water you have never been on and do the same.  Case in point my last trip.  Went to headwaters in Florida having never been there before and spreading all the pieces out and using general fishing knowledge, we put together a pattern that lasted an entire week.  3 boats and we put a 6+ in one of the boats every day.  Although the OP has dropped off, I think the info is still useful.

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On 2/22/2023 at 2:32 PM, KameronG said:

I've been bass fishing for about 3 years now and it's difficult for me to go out and find and  catch multiple decent sized bass. I can catch the little ones all day, but I've fished local tournaments and can't seem to compete with everyone else. 

Upsize your baits, use traditional big bass baits for your area, and fish for 5 bites rather than 25. Trying for a limit before targeting big fish is often a bad strategy. Go all or nothing!

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If you fish tournaments the bass you catch need to weigh more the 90% of the field fishing to be in the top10%.

Simply put you need to catch adult size bass 3+ lbs on average or 15 lb limits.

If you can’t catch 15 lb limits don’t tournament bass fish.

Tom

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On 2/23/2023 at 12:20 PM, Bankc said:

The old saying is it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. 

 

10,000 hours = 1.142 calendar year.

 

Dude said he's been fishing 3 years.

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