When fishing time is precious, its important to take a few things into consideration when picking your fishing locations for the day, in order to give yourself the best odds of having a great day out on the water. Over the years, you begin to start finding yourself considering the same couple of topics every time you start planning a fishing outing the night before. Hopefully, these few questions will help you develop a quick reference guide the next time you’re trying to figure out where to fish!
What direction is the wind coming from?
Unless you’ve got one of the best casts in the game, wind can really be a tough challenge to overcome. But you can use it to your advantage if you pick your spots and position yourself correctly with the wind to your back. I really like to use the app, Windfinder, to identify which direction the wind is coming from and they use their handy map to pick my spots. If you can find a spot where the wind will be at your back, you’ll be slinging long casts all day!
What angle is the sun coming from?
Sun plays an incredible part in whether or not your fishy targets will see you coming or not. Countless times I have been walking up a stream with the sun to my back and watched a bunch of fish shoot off as soon as my shadow crossed over their holding spots. You can eliminate this issue by approaching your spot so that your shadow doesn’t land on the water. Sun can also play a major part in sight fishing. Depending on where the sun is, you may face lots of glare, so try to position yourself where you can see into the water the farthest.
What are the tides/flows?
This should be the first thing you check before you hit the water because you really wouldn’t want to make a long drive out to a creek only to find it looking like a raging torrent. Flows will also determine where fish will be holding, in high flows you will typically find the fish holding near the banks or in any breaks in the current, so pick your spots accordingly.
If you’re getting salty, Tides arguably play the biggest role in where and when the fish will be feeding. Since most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to fish at all hours of the day, tides also should play a role in where you decide to fish. Pay attention and figure out where you get bites during the incoming and outgoing tides and mark those down. Then when you get your time to get out on the water, check the tides and head to your spot!
Is anything hatching? What bait will be around?
The presence of a food source for your intended fishy targets should also be a large consideration when you are picking a fishing spot. Is the tide going out? Maybe check the outflow of a tidal creek as bait will be getting flushed out right into the hungry mouths of predatory fish.
Perhaps, you’re chasing trout instead, pay attention to the local hatch charts of your region. Since hatches typically come off during the morning and evening, plan your fishing around that. Hit nymphing water during the middle of the day when the trout are hiding from the bright sun and then switch to the riffles and flat sections where risers will be plentiful and easy to spot.
What are the chances other people will be there?
Depending on what type of angler you are, of how you’re are feeling, you may want to try and figure out how crowded your fishing spots will be. Do you want to be alone or have some fellow anglers to keep you company? Holiday weekend? Maybe head to a less popular spot where the fish will be less pressured. This is especially true if you are fishing creeks with a “Plastic Hatch” aka people floating the creek on tubes or kayaks as that’s a recipe for lock-jawed fish and a frustrated angler. Sometimes the best way to avoid this is to simply hike for it and escape from the crowds.
Dan Zazworsky’s passion is sharing his love of fly fishing with anyone that will listen, read or watch. You can find him exploring new waters every day while chasing any fish that will eat a fly!