Observe, Learn, Succeed!
Talk about throwing fuel onto the fire. For an ADD afflicted angler, August brings a new set of predicaments.
The rest of the year, the decision is only what kind of fishing to choose; inshore, offshore, reef, flats, etc. Now we have to throw in the added dimension of going underwater for those tasty crustaceans, the spiny lobster. An old friend of mine used to refer to them as summa’ crab.
If this year is half as productive as last year, it will be twice as good as the previous one. It is difficult, if not impossible to predict how productive a crustacean season will be. Stone crab or lobster, the season’s productivity seems to have little to do with the previous year’s haul.
Over my many years of diving for lobster in Keys waters I have used the time in the water to hone my fishing skills while in active pursuit of the lobster. Many of the holes, ledges and channels that the lobster call home are also home to grouper, snapper and other fish that we target the rest of the year. I recommend spending some time while you are diving to make observations about the habitat and behavior of the fish that you observe. Besides identifying spots that hold the target species, you can learn a lot about the habits of the fish under conditions of tide, current and temperature.
For example, I found a spot containing a huge school of spawning mangrove snapper, while diving a ledge on the outer reef line for lobster. If I had not been diving and observant I would never have known that the spot held spawning aggregations of the snapper. I have found similar spots while diving coral heads and channels in the backcountry waters.
Fish watching can also help you better position your boat on future outings. By seeing how fish hang in certain holes, it can allow you to chum more effectively, and better coax fish from their hidey holes.
On another outing with time to kill after limiting out on lobster, I took the opportunity to observe how fish react to bait first hand. I baited up with a fresh ballyhoo plug and cast out into the school of grouper and snapper. I slipped into the water to observe how the different fish would hit the bait presentations.
I could watch the mangrove snapper as they cautiously watched from a distance while pinfish and grunts picked at the cut bait. When it seemed they couldn’t stand it any longer, they would zip in and take the bait away from the competition. They would bite it, spit it and bite it again before moving off - and only then taking the bait down past the hook. This gave me a great insight as to when and how to set the hook on finicky fish.
I made similar observations with grouper and their patience in allowing the nibblers to have at it a while until they could stand it no longer. Grouper however did a lot less spit and a lot more gulp than the mangrove snapper.
The observation, that there was significant nibbling going on before the game fish showed up, lead me to conclude that larger bait trumped smaller bait. The nibblers were in fact chumming by nibbling, and the activity caused by the little guys doing their thing attracted the more desirable fish. The catch was that you had to start with a large enough piece of bait that the little guys would not finish it before the attention of a larger fish was had.
While I made these observations a very long time ago, I have been able to greatly increase my success rate in all kinds of fishing both on and under the water by taking the time to explore and observe. My fishing ADD has been good for something after all.
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