The secret to fishing success
By Capt. Mel Berman, 970-WFLA
    Passed away in 2010.
** If there’s one comment that has consistently confronted me throughout my many years of being a sort of local fishing guru, it has to be — “I love fishing, but can’t figure out how to do some catching!”  I know it sounds condescending, but I’m sorry to say that the majority of folks who fish our waters don’t have a clue.

These wannabe fishing wizards start each trip the same way every time — making the ritualistic pit stop at their local bait and tackle store to load up on several dozen shrimp. Then, it’s off to the old honey hole.

Sitting there soaking up the sun and scenery is pleasant, but a few good pulls would sure make the day. Uh-oh! A fish woke them up. Rats! It’s a nasty catfish. Oh well, back to drowning shrimp.   I think that pretty much describes a typical trip for many in our midst.

In my opinion, these bait bucket brigadiers go fishing mentally blindfolded.   It doesn’t have to be that way. One simply has to open those big blues, ears and minds. If you do, you’ll be astounded at the vast improvement in your fishing prowess.  For example, how long since you paid attention to all phases of the atmospheric conditions? We’re talking wind, tides, barometric pressure, moon phase, solunar period, etc. Every single one of these environmental factors has a significant impact on your fishing success. And the only way to learn is for you to personally observe the effects of all these elements on your favorite species.   Take a notebook with you and, when you do have success, write down all the conditions that produced a winning day. And, of equal importance, take notes on those awful, skunked days. Eventually you’ll get a feel for the kind of atmospherics that are most amenable to fishing success.  An outing we had a few weeks back illustrates my point. There was a good incoming tide, the wind was blowing a bit and producing a slight chop on the water’s surface, it was a somewhat cloudy day. Drifting the flats near Ft. DeSoto ramp, we had the pleasure of catching a big trout with virtually every cast.   At midday, when the skies cleared, the wind laid down and the tide stopped, our catching came to a screeching halt.  Ironically, we passed several boats who had just launched and were heading out. Undoubtedly these folks believed such a visually pretty time of day would also be a rewarding fishing period. They would soon discover that their outing began at precisely the wrong time.  From our observations during numerous past trips, we knew instinctively that these conditions – picture postcard perfect though they may be — were sure to be barren and unproductive where fishing is concerned.   For expending a bit of observational effort, these anglers could have avoided what had to be a less than satisfying trip.   Now I know it sounds like a real nuisance, but try it for your next few trips. Take a notebook and write down the actual atmospheric conditions. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to fish. But, over a short period of time, you will find yourself automatically mentally calculating when and where to go fishing and know exactly which scenario will produce results. Best of all, you’ll enjoy the pleasure of coming home with something to show for all your time and effort.