Being able to quickly break down a body of water is a key to catching more fish.
One of the simplest ways to begin that process is by assessing fishing pressure.
The amount of fishing pressure a particular spot receives can teach you a lot about what you’re dealing with in a given location and play a large role in your success rate.
You can learn a lot about a spot by observing how many people fish it and how they go about doing so.
When it comes to pressure from other anglers, fishing spots fall into one of four categories. Here is how to fish each one of them.
The spot everyone fishes because there are a lot of fish
We’ve all spent time here.
The local honey hole that everyone knows about because it produces each and every trip.
Scratching out a fish or two from a location like this is rarely a challenge. But few people get the most out of these spots on a consistent basis.
The key here is to show fish something different than the same old same old. If everyone is using live bait, try artificials (or vice versa).
If everyone uses a gaudy color, try a more natural presentation. You can almost never go wrong with natural.
When fish are heavily pressured, sometimes, it pays to stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to be unconventional or try an off-the-wall technique or bait.
Another way to give yourself an edge is to fish these spots during what others deem as “off” times. Learn how to attack these locations when the weather or water levels are sub-optimal and you’ll be catching when everyone else is sitting on the couch.
You can also try to fish species outside of what the masses are going after. Nearly every bass spot is also a panfish spot. Rough fish are also present just about everywhere. Changing up your target species every once in a while can deliver some surprising results.
The spot everyone fishes because it’s easy
These locations can be a trap. It’s all about psychology and keeping yourself honest.
It can be tempting to set up where all the boats, shanties, or shore anglers are. But a crowd doesn’t guarantee a catch.
The herd isn’t always right. And even when it is, there are limits.
It’s amazing how often the second person to a spot simply begins fishing within close proximity of the first person because they assume the first person knows something they don’t. When, in reality, the first person just stopped at the closest or most easily accessible spot that seemed reasonable.
The third person then falls in line behind the first two and the cycle continues.
Frequently, this vicious process concentrates anglers in a spot where there simply aren’t that many fish.
On the rare occasion the group is actually on fish, there aren’t enough active ones to go around.
Be wary of these spots, especially if the number of people doesn’t line up with your personal experiences in that location.
Do your due diligence. Try to fish on the edges of the crowd and don’t be afraid to break away if things are slow.
The spot no one fishes because there (seemingly) aren’t any fish
This is another potentially dangerous spot to get caught up in.
You can’t always take these locations at face value, but sometimes you should. It’s important to use your head in situations like this.
If you’ve been eyeing up a spot where you rarely see people, take stock of what you see when you arrive. If water levels or flow are bad or there is a lack of structure, this place probably isn’t worth your time.
But if it passes the eye test, give it a shot. Be patient. If there is structure and a decent amount of water, the overwhelming odds are there are fish present, even if it appears barren to everyone else.
It’s possible the average person just isn’t fishing this spot correctly, whether it be with sub-par techniques, less-than-desirable tackle, or they are targeting the wrong species or fishing at the wrong time of day.
Put in your time and make your own decisions about the merit of these kinds of spots.
The spot no one fishes because it’s hard
There is a lot of success to be had here.
Generally speaking, the average angler is closer to lazy than ambitious. This person is trying to enjoy their free time and is reluctant to put in any more effort than necessary.
But if you are willing to dedicate a little extra time and energy, you can enjoy some amazing fishing.
Dust that old kayak or canoe off and get into those backwaters.
Take a hike downriver from the popular spot and see what you find.
If you’re on the boat, trust your instruments and your knowledge and stick to your game plan regardless of what others are doing.
Explore maps and pinpoint some logical locations people may miss because they aren’t obvious.
Being adaptable and willing to get away from the pressure of other anglers can set you up for a great trip.
Sometimes, you just have to take the risks others aren’t willing to take. The results can be astonishing.
No matter where you fish, you are always in one of these four locations. The faster you figure out where you stand, the sooner you will be catching fish.
Be aware. Be adaptable. And be honest with yourself.
You’ll be on the fish in no time.