Confidence in your angling ability grows with experience. Here are three surefire ways to jump start your confidence's growth.
It was not the kind of day most people would be ecstatic to go fishing. The morning was dank and gray, with a light overcast out, diminishing any hopes of sighting redfish from above.
Cold bit at exposed fingertips as we made our way down Reggio Canal in an aluminum flatboat, which, given its metal and gray coloring, contributed to the cold and lifelessness proliferating across the horizon.
It was February, the time of year most people stay home, unknowing how to tackle the shallow and dirty water of the marsh. But not I.
I knew how to, only after days of chasing my quarry in tough conditions.
I brought the boat off plane with our first spot just ahead. Dropping the trolling motor and climbing into the stand I readied my rod and reel.
It was time to smash redfish!
Become a Confident Angler
The best feeling in the world is launching the boat knowing you are going to catch fish. This kind of confidence is only had after years of fishing the marsh and utilizing good practices.
Here are three of those I know will set you on the path to becoming a more confident angler:
1. Know Your Equipment Inside and Out
Knowing is critical. A fisherman who understands his equipment is empowered. How can you confidently navigate the marsh if you don't know how to change out a propeller with a spun hub? You can't.
Make a list of things you don't know how to do, then set out to learn them. Searching this site is a great idea!
Here are some examples to get you started:
- Do you know all of the menu functions of your GPS and depthfinder?
- Do you have a VHF radio? Do you have all pertinent channels programmed and/or memorized?
- Do you have spares for all critical items? e.g. spare boat plug, spare fuses, extra propeller, etc.
- Is all of your life saving gear present and in serviceable condition?
- Do you understand the various drag and braking functions on your reels?
- When was the last time you took all of the twist out of your fishing line and re-tied your knots?
Days I can't go fishing are spent familiarizing with my equipment and techniques.
This way, when I do launch the boat, I am spending time actually fishing, not learning something I could have done at home.
2. Fish Tough Conditions
More time spent on the water equals more experience you will gain and, consequently, more confidence garnered through eventual success. Being out there, trying new techniques and catching fish by doing so is how an angler reaches new levels.
Waiting for "perfect" conditions is nothing more than cheating yourself. You lose the opportunity to gain new experience and improve your skills, two things that build your confidence.
Don't ever give up when you are fishing.
Do what it is you set out to do. When you eventually beat all the odds you will create a growing confidence in yourself and your ability to get on a great bite.
3. Stop Doing the Same Thing
I am a strong believer in trying new things. In Episode 5 of Inshore Interviews podcast my guest, Lou Paretti, speaks of improving by trying new lures, tactics and techniques.
Truth One day you may grow tired of fishing and it won't be because you have conquered the sport.
Instead, it will be because you never rose to new challenges.
But, if you could change your experience by finding a new way to catch fish (like sightfishing for redfish) your passion for inshore fishing will burn anew.
The experience of catching a fish doing something new is like re-living the discovery of fishing all over again.
Go Somewhere New
If you are used to fishing Hopedale, then try Delacroix.
Louisiana has so many options for inshore anglers, hence why it is called "Sportsman's Paradise."
Use a Different Lure
Try using a new lure. The time to do it is when you are on a great bite. Go with something radically different.
Toss a hard bait like a MirrOlure if your fishing trips primarily see soft plastics on a jighead. If you have never thrown a topwater then do so on the next day you have clear and smooth water.
Spool Different Fishing Line
For years I primarily used braided line and grew accustomed to its superb sensitivity. I could feel everything on the end of that line.
Yet, I observed the top anglers in Lake Pontchartrain using monofilament for jigging. After much cajoling from Jamie Mumphrey I switched one of my baitcasters over to monofilament.
I have re-discovered this line, like a man who was lost but found. It casts smoother and is easier on the soft mouths of speckled trout. I'm more than ready to chase trout on the Trestles this spring!
Try a new Technique
Using different techniques is just as important as trying new areas and tossing different lures. Steady retrieves are a given, but shouldn't be used all the time.
Try jigging the your favorite soft plastic instead. It may very well be that speckled trout want to see a jig-jig-glide along the bottom of the water column rather than a standard retrieve above their heads.
Experimentation is key and your confidence will soar when you start boating fish next to people who are not.
Above all, don't psyche yourself out.
Letting a bad day of fishing get to you is poison for your confidence. Consider it a learning curve before bouncing back, ready to tackle another day on the water.
Your mindset is the most important tool you have in the tackle box. Build your confidence, have a great attitude and it will show on your fishing trip when you produce great results!