top of page

How Do You Find Fish?

Do you have a game plan, or just go fishing?

How do you go about finding fish? Let’s be honest, many anglers just, go fishing. They don’t really think about where to begin fishing or why the fish are in one area versus a different area. Many anglers just let luck or random chance dictate the outcome of the day. Some bank on fishing reports they find online or hear a last minute tip at the boat ramp.

While this is all fine, would you like to put a little more effort into your game plan for fishing? Could a little forethought and planning result in full coolers this year?

Essentially, most anglers fall into three camps when it comes to how we approach the lake or think about where to fish.

Let’s call our first angler Mr. Random. He’s just happy he’s not at work or home facing a daunting honey do list. He loads up his boat and gear, heads down to the lake, launches his boat and runs out into the lake and sets down and then starts fishing without any thought to where he is fishing. No shame in this—we all need to relax and de-stress and nature is a wonderful counselor to a stressful week!

Our second angler, Captain Straight Line, has a plan. He runs out to spot X, sets lines and trolls a straight line to spot Y, turns around and trolls back to X and goes in. If Captain Straight Line has some Intel and there happens to be some fish between X and Y, this is not a bad plan. If the fish are not along his chosen path the results will be less than spectacular.

Our third angler, Captain Analytic, has done his homework and spends a little bit of time creating a plan . . . before heading out on the water. He knows that his ability to locate fish is greatly enhanced when he combines his past experiences with a little online research. He keeps good records of past trips, the good and the bad. He weaves his experiential memory (based on season), analyzes the current weather and wind patterns, understands how currents influence fish patterns, has researched the topographical seascape of the environment where he is fishing and he heads to an area because current conditions, based on past results (seasonally adjusted) suggest that is where the fish will be on that day.

He also factors what species are available. If only kings are in the area, that may lead him to different water than if the area has three or four different species available. Remember, each species has an ideal temp range, and they each have unique characteristics and some favor different parts of the water column. The different species also follow different seasonal migration patterns that are influenced, for good or bad, by local weather patterns. Mr. Analytic pays attention!

This third approach may seem like a lot of work, but honestly, if you begin paying attention to all these small details, learn to keep a good log book while you’re on the water, with time (maybe a full season) you will begin to see patterns in your fishery that you never noticed. You will catch more fish and you will begin to do much of this intuitively.

Key Points to Help you Catch more Fish

· Start with a plan before setting lines. Do not set up and troll at 2mph looking for fish. You don’t cover much water creeping along. When the sun is up, your boat may spook the fish before your sonar beam touches them. Your graph may show an empty screen when the truth is, the fish are there.

· Do your homework before leaving port and identify which areas are most likely to hold fish, based on the season and current weather pattern and water stratification. Head to that area then adjust your sonar and run at 10-20 mph using your electronics to locate bait or fish, then set up. Cover ground under power if you really don’t know where the fish are.

· If you don’t really have an idea of where to start, use your Fish Hawk to find the right water or level of the water column to set your lines. Our custom Salmon Coaching packages can teach you how to do this like a pro!

· Know your available target species so you know which delivery methods to deploy and what lures to run. Different species prefer different lures and how you set your lines does impact success.

· Multi-species spreads are often the most productive so learn how to get creative when setting lines and choosing lures.

· Learn how currents impact fish migrations off your homeport. This may take a little time but as you keep a detailed logbook, this will make more sense.

· Speed and Angle is everything. As you’re looking for fish, monitor your angles; make frequent adjustments to speed and directions until you get results. Don’t troll in a straight line if fish are not biting!

· Salmon and trout are not everywhere. Some year’s big schools dominate; other year’s pockets of fish will be the norm.

· Once trolling you can locate fish by moving your lines up and down in the water column. Really, set a few high as fish see up, but don’t ignore that really deep cold water, especially for kings and lakers.

· Key structure always holds available fish under certain wind regimes. Our Salmon Coaching and Salmon Schools will teach you how to do this!

· Take the time to learn how currents move masses of water, impact fish migrations and your boat’s trolling spread. Our Salmon Coaching and Salmon Schools will teach you how to analyze currents and make wise adjustments!

I hope this blog leads you to screaming drags this season! Find out more about our custom Salmon Coaching at

766 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

The Map


bottom of page