Now that we identified things from the fish’s viewpoint, let’s discuss a tactic that can turn a day on the water from “we saw a few schools” to “we caught a few schools” which is the approach. There is a saying in fishing which is that ten percent of the fishermen catch ninety percent of the fish. The approach is probably one of the most overlooked tactics where we see the divide in those who consistently catch fish to those who sometimes catch fish.
First, you need to give yourself a fighting chance at these fish by slowing down altogether as you approach your targeted fishing zone. This applies if you’re on the motor, on the trolling motor or on the push pole. If your sight fishing trying to locate fish, do not move faster than what your eyes can take in. Likewise, you want your boat’s movement to make as minimal signature in the water as possible. For example, if I am running a fishing charter I will come off of the motor at least 100 yards away from the zone I want to target. I will transition to either the trolling motor (at a slow to moderate speed) or if I’m in the skiff I will start to pole the boat in that direction. The closer I get to my desired zone, the slower I go on the trolling motor or on the pole. Ideally, you want to drift in and set up so that you are as far away from the fish as possible but still within casting distance. If you have a Power Pole, then this is when you start collecting on your investment. A good drift to the fish with a stick of the Power Pole is the way to go.
Next, determine how to position your boat before you get there. When I began charter fishing in Charleston SC, this was probably one of the more critical factors I had to apply to be productive. Know which way the wind is blowing and the direction of the current so you have a solid idea of how it is going to affect your boat when you get positioned. For example, if it is windy that day or if there is moderate boat traffic you will want to have your bow pointed into the wind or the direction of the wakes to minimize the hull slap. Improper positioning of your boat will cost you fish, you may see them but chances are it will be too late as they see or hear you leaving you with only a ploom of pluff mud. Similar to golf, it doesn’t matter if you drive the ball 350 yards but fail on the approach. In the winter months, it’s the little things that matter. And, in the winter months, the little things are amplified into either success or failure. If you want to up your inshore fishing game, master the little things.