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Brad Laabs: Improve your fishing knowledge to be a better angler

The calendar says we are in the last week of June, but everything in nature seems to indicate we are still in early June. Some lakes have still not reached the 70 degree mark for surface temperature. Bugs are hatching now that in many summers we see hatching in May. Late blooming lilacs along with other plants and flowers would keep you guessing if you didn’t know any better. What does all this indicate for fishing? That we are off to a great start with many anglers having early success with walleyes, northern pike, crappies, musky and bass. 

The good bite most fishermen are experiencing should continue for at least a couple more weeks. The fishing success for many anglers will dwindle after June, unless you make adjustments to the changes in fish behavior and location. Fish you find this week and catch with a certain presentation may not do the trick for you in mid-July.

Fish change locations and feeding preferences as their environment changes during the summer warm water season. It is important to spend a little time studying up on the fish species you like to pursue so you can adapt with them.

With access to the Internet, the many books written about all species of game fish, fishing shows that focus on seasonal changes and habits for various fish and your own past experience, you can learn to extend fishing success. Fishing is fun, but catching is more fun.

You can become a catcher of fish fairly consistently by putting your time in to get better. It is a different world of fishing for you when you go out with knowledge and a plan instead of just “hoping to get a lucky bite.”

Many other anglers that have consistent success are willing to share some helpful tips if you ask. Some anglers will never tell you the truth as they fall into the category of character I talked about in last week’s article. Asking questions like, “What bait were you using?”, “How deep were you fishing?”, “What kind of technique was best?”, “Any colors in particular working better for you?” will help steer you in the right direction. Some anglers will share even more information with you if you ask the right questions, but will only give you a little info if your questions are not specific.

If you have friends, neighbors, or acquaintances that you notice have regular success, ask them for advice and tips to improve your angling success. On the water, you will get better information from strangers you observe catching fish if you show respectful and on-the-water etiquette. If you have been trying to squeeze in on their spot while they are catching fish, getting in the way, throwing markers in their location, or following from spot to spot, you will most likely not get forthcoming information. If you give space and respect and ask that same veteran angler later, you are likely to get more help than you even expected.

Many anglers have improved by observing on the water during bass, walleye, or musky tournaments. You can get great clues as to locations and presentations. Make sure you observe and don’t get in the way. Asking during the tournament will not get you what you want, but approaching a few of the anglers after the event can prove to be productive. Watching the “weigh-in” and listening to the after tournament comments can go a long way in increasing your fish IQ.

The fact that you read articles like is an indication you are on the right path to improving your angling knowledge. Some weeks you might learn something from what I write, some weeks may waste your time, but keep reading. Asking for info at your local quality bait shop can also help with tips and information before heading out on the water. Keep learning and growing as an angler and get out and practice.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)