Opinions & Philosophies

5 Steps to a More Positive Fishing Attitude

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Your fishing attitude is every bit as important as the tools and the technique. Fishing can absolutely be influenced by the attitude with which we hit the water. One Christmas I was given a t-shirt that had a bunch of fishing excuses on it; too windy, too crowded, too sunny, someone was on my spot, water was too muddy, too clear and the list goes on and on. 

Success in fishing largely revolves around the ability to block out excuses and negativity and instead look more closely at the weather and conditions. It’s easy to make an excuse—anyone can do it—but they will never help you catch more fish.

As I get older, experience dictates on-the-water decisions much more than a seat-of-the-pants approach. Being able to utilize your mind, your preparation and your experiences to decrease adversity or a bad attitude can be a game changer.

Here are 5 things that can increase effectiveness and help you maintain a positive fishing attitude. 

Preparation

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A very small amount of preparation can take away a bunch of frustration in fishing. Checking all of your gear and planning your next trip can go a long way to decrease the demons of the unexpected. Build a checklist, in particular if you are traveling, to cover all of the items you will need or use. It is important to anticipate the unexpected too; building a travel kit that includes tools, first aid kit and other safety items can help turn a challenge into a success while on the water. 

I have a rule that I always have two of everything and that has saved me more times than not. Be sure to check out accommodations, routes and gas stations near where you are staying prior to the trip. Know main and secondary boat ramp locations, if available, due to weather, wind or construction concerns. Extra life jackets, rainsuits and bump boards are always good items to carry with you

Expect the unexpected

No matter how much you prepare, something can throw you a curveball on the water; and resilience to adversity is a learned skill. Throwing a tantrum never works. Taking a deep breath and heading directly into whatever the problem is is paramount. For example, if something breaks, fix it; don’t get mad about it. 

My grandpa used to tell me, “If it was built by a man it can be repaired by one.” A systematic approach to diagnosing the problem and repair of that problem will take anxiety out of the equation.

Bad weather can be your friend

Look at bad weather as a challenge versus a kiss of death. You cannot control the weather but you can train yourself to deal with it more effectively. Some of my best days on the water were when the weather was the worst. 

New performance clothing that includes cold weather and rain gear has never been better. Layering options have also improved and bad weather eliminates crowed conditions on most lakes. If you tournament fish, being able to manage the weather in your head gives you a competitive advantage as many anglers are whipped before they hit the water. The mental part of dealing with adverse conditions, in particular cold, can be overcome. 

Focus on the fish

it’s important for anglers to fish against the fish and not other competitors. Most great anglers can focus on what the fish are doing and most can fish effectively in crowds. Grit, knowledge of seasonal patterns and focusing on every cast will make fishing more enjoyable. 

Playing casting accuracy games with on the water targets improve casting and effectiveness. No matter how good you get, you can always get better. 

Be willing to learn

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The fun part of fishing is figuring out the puzzle. The ability to use all of your tools including electronics can be the difference and never let pride keep you from asking questions. Some of the best tips I have gotten over the years have come from live bait and panfish anglers as they see the bait much different than those of us who only use artificial lures. It wasn’t long ago that some bass anglers snubbed their noses at spinning gear, light line and small baits but the Neko rig and shaky heads have changed that thinking. 

Being able to learn new techniques and learn from others does take some humility, but realizing none of us can know everything makes that a smaller pill to swallow. Teaching others is part of the equation as well, and although some techniques and baits are kept secret by some anglers there is nothing better than the smile you get when teaching a new angler how to be successful. 

A long time ago, someone told me that life and fishing was about the journey versus the destination and I wholeheartedly agree with that. Having a positive outlook and a strong passion for success can make fishing a life experience worth living in its entirety. Having fun, fishing against the fish and learning each time on the water reaps huge rewards.

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