Usually before every fishing trip I try to come up with a plan. I like to check on a few things, the weather, yearly weather trends, El Nino years, lake conditions, lake maps, moon phases, fishing reports, google maps, social media sites, videos, even google earth to see how the lake changes over the years, pretty much anything I can find on the lake. Sound a bit crazy just for a little fishing trip? Of course, you don’t have to do any of this, but for me, it’s essential.
Time on the water is limited for me, I live in a dense metropolitan area and only have the weekends to spend time on my kayak learning new techniques and new water. Every lake that I am able to put my kayak on is heavily pressured and is at least an hour drive to get to. But even those who have more time on the water can benefit from getting a plan laid out before the trip. It can give you the advantage and make any time on the water more productive. The more time I spend off the water thinking about all of the different variables and a game plan, the more time I have when I’m on the water to concentrate on the fish.
Sometimes all the research is correct and everything falls into place, but more often than not, you have a few more variables to account for and you adapt and work it into your plan. The best part about every trip is that I learn something. Either I learn what part of my plan worked or what did not, but I always reap future benefits from keeping track of the nitty-gritty. I maintain a log book of every outing that includes the initial plan and details of how it played out on the water. It helps me determine where fish will be during a specific time of year and track what they’re biting on and the patterns that were most successful. The knowledge can then be applied to similar bodies of water and make the next trip even more fruitful.
All this research is great preparation for a trip and can help make you become a better angler. However, one important thing to be aware of is that the plan is just a plan. Mother nature can always throw you a curve-ball, so be ready to take all of that planning and throw it out the window. Many times, conditions change and until you set eyes on the lake, you won’t really know what’s in front of you. Being able to mold and adapt to the situation is an essential skill that many successful fishermen possess. But I also know that this type of preparation isn’t for everyone and not everyone measures a successful trip by how many fish they catch. For me, the reward is in the process and if I am able to learn something new on every trip then every trip is a success.