You may already have a few New Year's resolutions, but here are some more for you to become a better angler, catch more fish and enjoy your time in the marshes of Louisiana.
2016 is another year of opportunities, a fresh start to try new things at fishing. After all, trying new things is at the core of being a successful angler! Maybe some of these things aren't new to you, maybe they are. Either way, go down the list and check which ones you want to do for 2016!
2016 Fishing Resolutions
1. Re-tie Knots
It's a pet peeve of mine, losing fish that is. I hate losing speckled trout I need to finish off our limit or big reds we want to take our picture with and put a tag in.
Before every fishing trip I am sure to retie my Double Uni Knots on my fluorocarbon leaders and Improved Clinch or Palomar Knots on my lures.
If a knot sits out after fishing all day it can become weaker, especially if it sits for a long period of time. Make it a habit to re-tie your knots and lose less fish in 2016!
Learn more tips on not losing fish in Do These 3 Things to Keep From Losing the Big One.
2. Take Better Care of Live Bait
You are doing your fishing trip a disservice by tossing live shrimp and croakers in the livewell and leaving it at that. Make the effort to take better care of your bait.
You can get some live bait tips in How to Keep Shrimp Alive.
3. More Routine Maintenance on Your Boat and Gear
Make a habit of checking your trailer bearings, steering linkage, and more. Pay special attention to emergency gear like your horn, distress signals and life vests. Are they all in good working order?
If anything looks questionable then be sure to replace it. Remember the Seven Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents P*ss Poor Performance.
Do a fresh water rinse of your boat, motor, fishing equipment, truck and trailer after every trip to cut down on saltwater corrosion.
Your boat is important, but so is your trailer. Be sure the spare tire is available and ready to rock and roll with the right amount of tire pressure. Are your bearings greased appropriately? Don't find out the hard way.
4. Try Trolling
A lot of anglers are not fans of trolling lures for speckled trout and redfish, but it is something I have tried a couple times and had moderate success with. I am open-minded enough that I could try it again, even if it is just for the learning experience.
I trolled with lead core line and umbrella rigs in Lake Hartwell, Georgia with my uncle last year and it was fun, as we were targeting big striper.
What really changed my mind about trolling is that my uncle was using side imaging sonar to locate shad. The image was so clean you could tell if the shad had been run through by predator fish and often you could see the stripers, too.
It wasn't long after that we would hook up. We could also see bass and sacalait (crappie) holding to structure. It was a way to see what was going on underwater and further my fishing education.
In the future, I want to bring those techniques to Louisiana, side imaging natural gas platforms, rock piles and even the Trestles in an effort to learn more about speckled trout and why they do what they do.
Gus' Tackle and Nets in Slidell, LA has really cool rod and reel setups designed specifically for trolling.
5. Try a new Hard Plastic
It's generally accepted that Inshore Rigs and jigheads with soft plastics are the go-to tackle of choice for inshore fishing in Louisiana.
But, there are other aisles in the tackle store that offer far more opportunities for improved speckled trout and redfish catches. Try throwing a new lure like a crankbait or suspending twitchbait.
There are a bunch out there, but I like to use suspending MirrOlures for trout and a Mann's Baby 1 Minus for bass and redfish.
These larger lures have an action unobtainable by soft plastics on a jighead. They induce strikes from bigger trout, too. In fact, I bought some new hard plastic lures today!
6. Start Tossing Topwater
Speaking of hard plastic lures...
You really need to get into the topwater game if you have not already done so. I have said it a million times and I will say it again:
I would much rather catch 5 girthy trout on a topwater than 50 schoolies under a cork.
Topwater lures will pull bigger trout out of the school. Bigger fish eat bigger bait; the large size and hard outline of a topwater provokes strikes from those larger trout.
I am no trophy trout angler, but I do enjoy watching specks blow up on a topwater and do cartwheels out of the water trying to nail it!
MirrOlure also makes awesome topwater lures. My favorites include a Top Dog and She Dog, but I have used others in the past as well.
7. Learn a New Route
You should take time to participate in learning trips, as opposed to fishing trips. Often I tell myself I will run a new route or explore a new area after catching a limit of trout or reds.
Take time to evaluate exactly where you are fishing. People will launch from Breton Sound Marina just to run 12 miles up Bayou LaLoutre to fish Stump Lagoon.
That's a long haul with few fishing spots along the way, especially when you can run twelve miles in the other direction to Lake Four Horse, where there are far more fishing opportunities along the way.
Point is, if you are running excessively far then it may be time to learn a new route.
8. Post a Fishing Report
Why would you ever want to take the time to post a fishing report? Well, for a couple different reasons.
For starters, you will be keeping a log of your fishing trips. With time you will forget the details that are important to remember when fishing similar conditions years later.
I am pretty good about keeping fishing reports, but some I never got around to posting and, down the road, I'd forget exactly where and what I fished that day. Most of my fishing reports I have kept logged and looking back on those have helped me find fish years later.
Secondly, you will show other inshore anglers you are making an honest effort, whether you slaughtered the fish or not. This is key to building relationships with others and getting the opportunity to fish with them.
We all stand to learn something from each other. I have learned new tips and tricks from anglers like Jamie Mumphrey, Gabe Minnich and Kevin Wartberg, all of whom are now admins for the Louisiana Fishing Blog on Facebook.
It was through fishing reports we eventually got to know one another.
If you are going to post a fishing report, it is highly recommended you do so on my very own fishing report forum, Louisiana Fishing Reports (LAFR). My site is easy to use, mobile-friendly and is frequented regularly by its members. In addition to that, LAFR is designed to automatically post fishing reports to my Facebook page, so you can share that link from there to yours.
9. Start Tagging
Tagging fish is a great way to give back to the awesome fishery we have. It's also an opportunity for you to learn more about the habits of speckled trout and redfish. Learn more about tagging and how to get started when you check out How to Tag Fish.
10. Go out with no live bait!
Just do it. Go. Fishing. With. No. Live. Bait.
You can catch specks and reds year round without live shrimp, cocahoes or croakers. If you are uncomfortable fishing without live bait, then go at least once with a vacant livewell.
Knowledge Bomb: in lieu of live bait use Berkley Gulp Shrimp in New Penny. It is basically artificial live bait!
11. Split a Trip
Learning from professional guides who spend everyday on the water is an excellent way to jumpstart your inshore fishing education. Find some other people to split the cost of the trip with you and go as a group.
Inshore fishing guides can take groups up to six people. If you want some great pointers on how to choose a fishing guide then check out Secrets of Choosing a Charter Without Getting Burned.
12. Take a Kid Fishing
Now more than ever is the time to ensure the future is in good hands.
Hunters and anglers have a true appreciation for the outdoors because we spend time amongst its denizens and it is our love for them that will ensure they remain there. If the next generation cannot share that passion then the future of our magnificent wetlands is at risk.
13. Take the Twist out of Your Fishing Line
Fishing line can become twisted, leading to poor performance. This is not so prevalent on baitcasters, but is more pronounced on spinning reels. I have a specific way I like to de-twist my fishing line. You can see that here: How I Remove Twist From Fishing Line
14. Start Using a Baitcaster
It is something you ought to give a shot if you do not already have one occupying a rod holder. I'm not going to beat a dead horse, rather I suggest you read You Need to Start Using a Baitcaster.
15. Try a New Recipe
Blackening redfish and frying speckled trout are a given, but have you ever had this fast and easy redfish recipe? That recipe was posted by one of our members on Louisiana Fishing Reports, so be sure to give it a try.
16. Practice Catch & Release
Did you catch a "big" 4lb speckled trout? In all actuality, she's not that big.
The fish is better off being CPR'd (Catch, Photo, Release) and allowed to grow even larger. Hopefully one day she can become a record breaker!
That's what we did with this beautiful 24" speckled trout.