Sometimes deciding where to fish within a fishery can be extremely difficult. When I guide on the coast or even occasionally on large stillwaters I am often asked how I decide where to start. It can be difficult, particularly when faced with large, relatively uniformed, expanses of water or miles upon miles of coastline.
When in these situations I always try to think about what constitutes as a fish attracting feature within that sort of fishery or for that species of fish. I am a firm believer that in order to be a consistently successful angler you must first have a detailed understanding of your quarry. We need to know how it feeds, how it rests and how it evades predators. Armed with this knowledge it is a simple matter of analysising what we can see on or above the water surface and interpreting what this may mean to our quarry. Identify the places where the fish want to hang out and (perhaps more importantly) where they want to feed and fish there.
That is all well and good, but yesterday I was reminded of a discussion with a really good saltwater guide I fished with a couple of years back. We were chasing bass, without much luck as it turned out, but nevertheless what he said to me has steered much of my thinking in fishing ever since. We were recce-ing an area that we wanted to hit later on when it was dark, it was a massive expanse of rocky foreshore, with mile upon mile of what I would describe as textbook bass feeding territory. Gulleys, rockpools and any other bassy feature you could imagine. The problem here was not to identify the fish-attracting feature but to try and prioritise which feature would be more likely to attract the most fish. Not easy.
So when I say 'its all about the features' my guide disagreed, when faced with this many potentially fantastic features it can serve to divide the fishes feeding efforts and subsequently our chances. He explained that it is all well and good identifying feeding areas, the key to fishing these areas is to identify the key events. ie to be at a prime feeding position at the prime feeding time or, as he put it - its all about the 'events'.
So in order to maximise our chances in addition to identifying the features we need to time our attack to coincide with an event. So an understanding of what constitutes an event is as important as what constitutes a feature. Now this is more difficult. Now we need to understand a great deal more than where our quarry likes to hang out, we need to understand what influences the prey species, this is relatively easy. But what about the effects on our prey of the onset of darkness, a temperature change, a drop in air pressure, or moonrise. Interestingly my guide put a huge importance on the arrival and departure of the moon as an event. So in essence, pick your feature and then plan your assault to be there when an event happens, to maximise the chance of sport. In if you can plan to arrive at a succession of features to coincide with a succession of events, then happy days.
Yesterday I spotted the onset of an event. From around mid morning it honked down, proper summer rain, massive drops that fall vertically, uninfluenced by the wind and hurt when they land on your head. I knew that there should be some decent fish around and by 1600 I was to found on my favourite spate river. Water levels were still a little low but already the colour of weak tea, a spate was coming I could see that and I hoped that the fish could too. I had a window of just two hours before branches and tree trunks started to drift past me indicating the arrival of the spate and the end of my fishing. But for those two hours I am happy top report that the river felt as alive as I can remember it.
Be in the right place for an 'event' and the rewards can be spectacular.