Barbs and Backlashes

Time on the water by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
November 8, 2009, 11:26 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags:

I love spending time “in the field”, or “on the water”.  I believe that the more time a person is able to spend out there, the more they will have a “feel” for what is going on–where and when are the critters moving, where are the fish, what are they doing, when are the prime times.  If a person spends time in the field and on the water and is observant, you can learn a lot.  I will give you a recent, obvious example–if you have spent anytime outdoors in recent days, I am betting you have seen deer moving, probably lots of deer and probably bucks.  We are swinging into the rut and for bow-hunters the next couple of weeks before rifle deer season opens will be the best hunting of the year.

Look close, there is a nice buck along the edge of the trees. It was 1:00 in the afternoon and that buck just stood there and looked at us.

Look close, there is a nice buck along the edge of the trees. It was 1:00 in the afternoon and that buck just stood there and looked at us.

So, how does that apply to fishing?  There is a lot you can learn by being out there, and the more time you spend in the field or on the water the more you will have a feel for what is going on and the more you will be successful in pursuing fish and game.  In fact the more time you spend out there the more you will develop an instinct, almost a 6th sense.  There have been times when I have fished a spot and just knew that there should be fish there; it just “felt” right.  I may not have caught fish that first time or even the second or third time, but there was something right about the spot and eventually it paid off big.  Or how about those times when you have been fishing and not catching a thing; do you stay where you are and wait for fish to show up and start biting or do you run to another spot?  Those are the decisions that make or break a fishing trip, but how do you know what to do?  I cannot give you a good answer to that, except to tell you to spend time on the water, be observant while you are out there, and follow your instincts.

What should you observe?  If you have a boat that is outfitted with modern depth-finders you can observe a lot; that is obvious.  But you can also learn a lot by just keeping your eyes and ears open.  Which direction is the wind blowing from?  Is it switching, blowing harder or laying down? Are light conditions changing?  Can you see any fish activity?  Baitfish?  Predator fish pursuing baitfish?  What are the birds doing?  WHAT?  WHAT ARE THE BIRDS DOING?  Yes, what are the birds doing?  There are a lot of fish-eating birds that can give you a clue.

Want another story and example?

My son and I got chased off the water by a thunderstorm one morning.  As we sat in the pickup watching the lightning strike I saw a great blue heron come flying across the reservoir and make a bee-line for a stretch of shoreline.  A few minutes later here comes another heron and again flies straight for the same shoreline.  Then there was another one and another after that.  I looked at my watch and  made a mental note–there was  a reason those herons were flying into that shoreline at that time–there were baitfish there and if the baitfish were there at that time every day there was a good chance there were some predator fish there too.  The next morning we were able to get out to fish, we made sure to hit that spot at that time of morning.  I waded out and made one cast; my son hooked up right after I hooked mine.


Little things make a big difference.  Spend as much time on the water as you can, be observant, and eventually you will develop that feel, that 6th sense.  Of course nothing beats confidence, that also comes with time and success.


7 Comments so far
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great story ..thanks for sharing

Comment by water filter

Why the big stink with getting on nefga? I registered 2 weeks ago and even sent a reminder email but they didn’t activate my acct. There are other fishing websites that are far more friendly. Is this what Neb game and parks wants to be known for?

Comment by Jeff

The Nebraska Fish & Game Association (NEFGA) is NOT part of the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission. NEFGA is an on-line community/outdoors forum that is moderated by a bunch of private individuals. NEFGA has been very helpful in partnering with the Game & Parks Commission on several projects and their forum is a great way to stay up-to-date with what is happening in the Nebraska outdoors.

If you are having some problems they have a list of directors and moderators that you can contact, .

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

That’s ok I’ll pass. To no avail I can’t get on that site and they won’t answer my email. and are more friendly anyway.

Comment by JEFF

Just curious… What did you catch them Wipers (guessing) on? You waded out and were casting to what kind of structure?

I went camping to Calamus last year. When I tow the camper, I can not tow the boat. So, I bank fished a little bit, but I felt like a fish out of water 🙂 I would love to have some confidence that I might hook into a fish like you and your son did!

Thanks – Chris

Comment by Chris H.

Both of those fish were caught on shallow-running crankbaits. There really was no structure, it was just a flat, but the wind was blowing into it.

I have caught wipers without a boat at Calamus too! I always look for wind-swept shorelines and points. Wipers will cover a lot of water and it is certainly “hit or miss”. If a school of wipers is there feeding on baitfish, you will usually know it right away. If you are not catching fish, the wipers are not there. Then you have a choice–wait and see if a school of wipers shows up or cover some water and try to find them. I cannot tell you what choice is best, it depends on the situation. If I am on a spot where I have caught fish before and there are baitfish present, I might stay and wait for a school of wipers to arrive. On another day with different conditions a run-and-gun approach may be better.

There are trips where you just never catch up with them. But then again there are trips where you do find a school that is actively feeding and then the fishing can be unbelievable! That is what keeps me going back!

Daryl B.

Comment by Daryl Bauer

Thanks for the tip. I’ll hope the wind is in my favor and build sand castles until I see some activity, then make a run for the big stick and toss out some cranks!

Comment by Chris H.

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