Low-tech fishing knowledge

by Glen Ogilvie

Old timers like myself are quite capable of adapting to and using new technologies in our fishing. Sometimes it's just more rewarding to rely on more "human" skills.

My own fishing gear includes depth sounder, fish finder, electronic downriggers, GPS navigation system (even an electric hook sharpener), so you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks to silicon chips and micro-electronics, this equipment gets more powerful, more compact and versatile and less expensive with each year's new models. Still the most powerful, versatile and ultimately portable piece of fishing equipment that I never go anywhere without is completely free. It is the human brain.

Before all these helpful devices. believe it or not, we were able to catch fish. Sure there were a lot more salmon in those pre-hi-tech days (Is there a connection there?) but the oceans were just as deep and just as vast as today, so locating the fish in the one spot they were feeding was no different than today. Finding feeding fish and fish that are holding onto a strategic position requires keen observation, knowledge and the correct deductions about their behaviour.

Finding bait is the most simple principle to finding salmon or any other predator fish. Herring balls are not hard to identify - usually you'll first notice bait fish leaping above the water. If you pay attention to the seagulls and cormorants you will get early notice of bait activity. Seagulls will normally disperse themselves over a wide area and take shifts in-flight, scanning the surface for bait. Let the gulls do some looking for you as well.

In trout and bass you are looking for entirely different baits. Changes in seasonal feed variations for your target fish are one of the natural rhythm you must be in tune with.

Suitable bait or lures are important in order to cash in on a feeding frenzy so you'll have to anticipate which is the feed to match. This leads to another crucial area of knowledge - seasonal migrations.

There's no sense going to look for surface feeding trout equipped with dry fly patterns when the fish are all at the bottom eating leaches and worms. The same holds true for any species whether it migrates across the ocean or just within a lake. Be on the same schedule. Whether you use modern electronic angling aids or are "going natural", learning as much about the eco-system you're entering is going to help you catch fish and is its own reward.


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