Don’t let the lack of a boat prevent angling success this season. There are lots of quality bank fishing opportunities in almost every community. Places like subdivision ponds, quarries, golf course water hazards, marinas, and bridges offer savvy anglers the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime, without the expense and hassles of boat ownership.
Just as in other types of fishing, catching more fish from shore requires commitment, practice, and attention to detail. Here are some tips collected from the best bank anglers in the country that will have you hooked up more often in the coming months.
1. Do a walk around
After arriving at a shore fishing location, resist the urge to just immediately start casting. First, take a few moments to walk the perimeter or observe the water body and look for fishy looking structure like vegetation, laydowns, and docks. Create a good mental layout of the spot and come up with a game plan before fishing. Doing that will help you focus on the most productive areas. Be on the lookout for fish as well, seeing a bunch of baitfish may clue you in to what the predator fish are doing.
2. Stay low
Ponds, streams, and other shore fishing spots often have little in the way of cover. Because of that, your silhouette can betray your presence to the fish before you even make a cast. When possible, try to stand next to a tree, clump of grass, or dock piling to hide your shadow from the fish. If it’s sunny, try keeping your shadow off the water. Fish are tuned in to look for the shadows of birds of prey and herons, so they will scatter when your shadow crosses their path.
3. Cast Parallel
It’s instinctive to walk up to a pond or other shore fishing spot and lob a cast as far as possible out toward the middle. Unfortunately, in most ponds or lakes, the vast majority of the game and panfish will be hanging out either near shore, or on the first major drop-off close to shore. It’s important to resist that urge and make parallel casts along the bank or quartering away. Doing that keeps your bait in the strike zone longer, which will result in more bites.
The phrase “match the hatch” is applicable in all fishing situations. It means that you will catch more fish if you use baits and presentations that accurately resemble the dominant prey of the fish you are trying to catch. In the often small waters accessible to shore anglers, predominant baitfish species are generally stunted panfish and minnows. Downsize your presentations to increase your action. If you’re fishing a worm, opt for a 4 or 5 inch model rather than an 8 incher. If you’re throwing a spinnerbait, switch it up to a ¼ or 1/8 ounce version.
Without a boat, bank anglers are only able to fish where their feet can take them. What this means is that you’re often going to have to do a lot of walking to find the sweet spots. Lugging around a bunch of rod/reel combos and a huge tackle box from place to place gets tiring and frustrating quickly. Instead, try choosing a single multi-purpose rod/reel combo and pack a small backpack with just a few presentations. By doing that, walking is easier, you’ll save energy, and you’ll spend more time fishing and less time hauling gear. Try narrowing your tackle selection down to these 5 presentations – A topwater, a moving bait with flash (spinner, etc), a moving bait with noise (a crankbait), a soft plastic for slower presentations, and a finesse bait.