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Boats allow anglers to cover more water. How they find the fish is up to the anglers.

You have probably heard it said that 10% of the water contains 90% of the fish.

On any given day there will be a whole lot of water that does not contain the fish you want to catch. Successful fishing involves the ability to eliminate unproductive water and find fish, and the best anglers do that well.

If you own a boat and the latest electronics, those absolutely will help you find fish faster. Take the time to learn how to use your electronics and get the most out of them.

I am amazed at how little water many boat anglers fish. A lot of anglers simply fish where they see others fishing, or they camp on a spot where they fished before. For some reason, too many believe that if they just sit in one spot long enough the fish will start biting. Usually the best strategy is to go find fish that will bite. This also applies to bank anglers.

If you cannot look at a depth finder to find fish, you have to find them in other ways. Observe and interpret what is heard, seen, felt, even smelled and tasted. Start with map study and boots on the ground to identify likely spots — then fish ’em!

Being on the water with a line in the water is a great way to observe conditions and get a feel for what is going on beneath the surface. Using the right baits and tools to check different depths and presentation speeds will tell you if catchable fish are present. If fish are not being caught, some fine-tuning of presentations may be in order. On the other hand, it likely is time to try another spot.

Decision-making plays a huge role in successful angling — “Should I stay or should I go?” The decision to “go” is not made nearly enough. It is easy to be lazy and settle in on a spot because fish were caught there before. The trick is knowing when to stay and when to go. The choice to “stay” will be the right decision in some cases.

When to stay depends on what you are observing, but sometimes anglers just have to play their hunches. I will be more likely to stay on a spot if I am seeing fish activity, baitfish and perhaps larger predator fish that I may be pursuing. Any place where there is an abundance of prey is a spot that deserves more time or perhaps deserves more effort at another time.

You have to have confidence in your ability to find fish and catch them. The more confidence you have, the more often you will make the right decisions. The more often your gut feelings will pay off. Some new spots I discovered did not produce the first or second or third time I fished them, but I knew they were right. I knew at the right time they would produce, and there was great satisfaction when they did.

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Daryl Bauer is the fisheries outreach program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Contact him at daryl.bauer@nebraska.gov. Read his blog, Barbs and Backlashes, at OutdoorNebraska.org.


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