Barbs and Backlashes

I hate “Outdoor Reports” by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
September 21, 2009, 9:13 am
Filed under: Fishing

OK, if you have read this far you may already be upset with me, but keep reading, let me explain, and maybe teach a thing or two in the process.

I have never thought much of the typical “outdoor reports”, you know, “catching a few fish on minnows and jigs near docks, channels, and trees” or “crankbaits or plastics near structure”, “fishing poor”, “fishing good”, etc., etc.  What do those reports really tell a person?  How reliable are they? 

Have you ever talked to a group of anglers who have been fishing the same water for the day?  I have, and I can tell you on any given day, there will be some anglers that will catch fish, and some who could not catch fish in a barrel.  If a” fishing report” is based on the folks who did not catch fish, then what does that tell you?  On the other hand, if you use the information from those anglers who seem to always catch fish, that might be useful, but do you suppose the real details needed to be successful will be conveyed in a report that says “walleyes biting on crankbaits trolled near creek channels”?  Those kinds of details/skills can only be learned by spending time on the water.  Other anglers can help one learn those skills and details, but chances are you are not going to gain that information from an “outdoor report”.

My uncle had an old fishing buddy who used to talk about “fishing ‘history'”.  He would see some guys sitting on the same spot they fished the day before, maybe even the day before that, and would say they were “fishing ‘history'”–in other words they were fishing the spot where they had historically caught fish; caught fish the day before; maybe caught fish the year before.  I will be the first to tell you that those spots are always a good place to start, and if you can go back to yesterday’s hot-spot and catch more fish, then do it.  But, I will also tell you that conditions are always changing; fish live in a dynamic environment and they are always reacting and adapting to that environment.  Yesterday’s “honey hole” can go cold, but that does not necessarily mean the fish “quit biting”.  Successful anglers learn to adapt and adjust to the changing conditions right along with the fish.  Too many times anglers continue to fish “history” and then wonder why they are not catching fish like they did before.  They conclude that the fish “quit biting” when in fact they may have just moved!

I said all of that to say this:  planning your fishing trips according to “outdoor reports” or “fishing reports” is a good way to ensure that you are “fishing ‘history'”.  How many times have you arrived for a hot bite only to be told that you should have been there yesterday or last week?  We have all been there, and if you wait until you hear reports of good fishing you will surely be there again.  By the time you read about a hot bite in an outdoor report it is old news.

“Are the fish biting”?  YES, the fish are always biting.  Seriously, fish have to eat to survive.  Rarely do they quit biting for more than a few days, maybe a week or two at a time.    Depending on the species of fish, there will be different periods during the year when they will be easier to catch, but they are almost always feeding at least a little bit.  So, the key to being consistently successful is figuring out how to catch them, not waiting to hear a report that they are biting.  The key is understanding the species of fish you pursue, the habitats and locations where they are found; understanding the seasonal migrations and daily movements of those fish; and figuring out and mastering the presentations, baits, lures, rods, reels, lines, techniques needed to catch them where they live.  At times that will be easy and at other times that will challenge the Al Lindners of the world.

I believe a person can learn how to be a better angler.  I believe you can master the skills needed to consistently catch fish.  That process does not come by chasing hot bites or waiting for a good “outdoor report” before going fishing.  Yes, it takes time and effort.  There is so much to learn and it is a never-ending process.  Fortunately in the world in which we live there is a wealth of information available on the internet.  I am a huge fan of In-Fisherman and their products (  There are lots of on-line forums out there where anglers share information and ask questions, and if you fish Nebraska, there is a wealth of helpful information on the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission’s website, .  Oh, and if you think I might be able to help, feel free to ask!

Lastly, there is nothing that beats time on the water.  An angler can learn more by concentrating his or her efforts on a handful of bodies of water rather than chasing the lastest, hottest fishing report.  Learn how to consistently catch fish on a few bodies of water and then take that knowledge to new waters; even new species.  Never be afraid to experiment and learn new things, and GO FISH as much as you can.  You will know you are getting it when you begin making your own “outdoor reports” instead of waiting for someone else’s.

Did not wait for an "outdoor report" to find this one.

Did not wait for an "outdoor report" to find this one.

9 Comments so far
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One for the Journal.

Last Thursday I was cast neting for shad at Elwood Reservoir.

On one cast I netted a 23-inch Walleye and released it.

3 casts later the net landed partially on the bank. Up jumped a bedded Mule deer, not 2 feet from the net.

Just wondering what would have happend if I had netted the deer with the line wrapped around my wrist and what the proper release method you would suggest?

Is there a catch and release pin for Mule deer?

Is there a master angler award for one?

Comment by Steve Trybus


That is funny. Do you have a deer permit? Yes, we do have a big game trophy recognition program, but I am not sure what you need to qualify in the “cast net” category. Ha.

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Great report, Daryl. Recycled Fish has done an ice fishing tour the last couple of years. I learned so much about this same topic, watching guys come off the ice. You’ll find half the field who says, “the fishing was horrible” and half that says, “the fishing was awesome.” A fishing report is only as good as who you’re asking, and it’s not very relevant tomorrow.

If a person is willing to fish for multiple species, and target the fish that are ‘happening’ on a given day, your odds go way, way up, too!

Comment by Teeg Stouffer

Good blog-entry Daryl. I’m guilty of a lot of those “shouldn’t do” items. Still learning…

I think the key – at least with me – is your, “Lastly, there is nothing that beats time on the water.” Couldn’t agree more!

But, then there ARE those of us that are lucky if we get out a couple of times PER MONTH. At that rate, we (“I”) rarely get the chance to learn and figure-out patterns. So I wind up being one of those Internet “lurkers”.

Just trying to learn WHAT I can, ANY WAY that I can.

Thanks for all that you do for us!


(The Glove-Guy :-))

Comment by ydoc

Don’t get me wrong. Gather as much information as you can before you are on the water, talk to folks, research the internet, etc. But, if you rely on the typical “outdoor report” you are not going to know much before you hit the water.

I love the internet! This media gives us lots of ways to communicate with others, swap fish stories and reports, and most importantly go beyond the typical “outdoor reportts” to learning details that will make a difference.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

If it were not for fishing reports, I would have never believed there are wipers in Nebraska.


Comment by Ron Fry


Thank you for the great quality of your blog, every time i come here, i’m amazed.

black hattitude.

Comment by black hattitude

Thanks Daryl, great write to bad more people don’t read it.

Comment by hankthecrank

[…] of my blog, you know that I do not have much use for the typical “outdoor report”, .  My biggest reason for that is that is yesterday’s information; just because someone […]

Pingback by Go Fish, NOW! (May 2010) « Barbs and Backlashes

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