That’s a good fishing mentor. You could spend the next 3 years buying a whole lot of lures and bait, running to every body of water at least 3 times, fishing both shores, and logging and comparing your results. Or you could meet Fishing Mike.
Fishing Mike was a gentleman I met on a trout stream one day. I mentioned him in this episode of homesteady. I had been trying to learn how to catch trout and was empty handed until he showed up.
He was a local long time fly fisherman. And he showed me everything I was doing wrong in about one hour. The next time I went trout fishing, I limited out!
All you need to do to learn how to catch enough fish to feed your family is find a good fishing partner. Where is your fishing Mike? Here are 3 ways to stumble into your next fishing partner.
1. Support a Local Tackle Shop
The best thing yoou can do when you decide to try to fish your your dinner is to buy all your gear from a local tackle shop. I know lures are cheaper at a big box store. And some of the staff may even like to fish. Here is the difference.
A local tackle shop is invested in you. They need local guys like you to like to fish. And if you don’t catch anything, you’re not going to like it. So, as a little insurance that you’ll come back, your local shop will always share a few tips that will send you out to catching dinner.
That said, remember the lesson we learned last week, about the mentor relashonship going both ways? Dont just buy a plastic bobber and expect to learn all the secret spots in your neck of the woods. Buy your rods, reels, and gear from your local shop. Consider the little extra you spend there paying off when your shop owner finally lets you in on his first real secret spot! (They dont share those on the first visit).
Ask the shop owner about where fish are stocked. ask him about where the fishing is good locally, and what kind of fish to target. and ask him what time of day is best!
And don’t forget, the shop owner isn’t the only one there who could help you on your way. Strike up conversation with anyone shopping there. You never know when you’ll get invited along.
2. Fish Early and Often
So you went and bought all your gear, and were sent to a good spot to find fish. Dont show up at noon and expect to meet your fishing jedi master. If you want to learn from the pros, go at sunrise and sunset.
Fishing is always better early in the morning and late in the afternoon. And good fishermen know this. There is also less fishermen around at those time. So the really good fishermen make sure to beat all the other guys to the water.
If you want to meet those kind of fishermen, be there early. Watch what they do. Slowly make your way past them.
Past Them? Yes, don’t work up to them and ruin their fishing spot. Make your way as if your going to pass them, (with plenty of space so as not to ruin their fishing spot) and then send out a smile and a hello! You can ask how the fishings going, but any angler worth his salt will only ever respond with a mild “Not bad…” at most. So maybe push a bit more.
Mention that you’re learning to fish, and ask if they have any pointers.
The key is to establish yourself as a friendly guy whos looking to learn how to fish. When you get a tip from them, be excited, and thank them for the help. Get their name (and remember it), and then move on past them to a fishing spot far away from where they are working.
Want to land a real fishing mentor out of this? Here is your next step. Leave before they do. On your way back to your car, you will once again have to pass the fisherman (whos name you remembered! 😉
Shout out another thanks to them. Ask ’em one more question. Maybe. “So do you fish here often?” That will help you bump into them again. Maybe ask if they live nearby. That too may lead to a bit more small talk. Hopefully you will have a chance to exchange an email, but if not, don’t worry, chances are, if you come back here on the same day and time next week, you’ll bump into them again. I wound up getting weekly lessons from Fishing Mike! After a few more mornings, you may just get invited to a secret spot!
3. Fish stories lead to fishing trips
Now that you’re getting your feet wet, start to seek out chances to tell fish stories. People gravitate around stories, (thats why we do a campfire storytelling podcast) and when you start telling a fishing tale, someone else will join in. Listen. And ask questions. Maybe someone you work with, whom you never expected to be a fisherman, is your bass YODA.
If you see poles, say hi. If you see a boat, compliment it. Strike up conversation with as many fisherman as you can. And listen to thier stories. If nothing else, you will learn a ton! And perhaps you will get invited along!
These 3 steps helped me go from empty stringer to full freezers in just one season. I walked into my local shop and said “Hi, I know nothing, how can I catch fish easy?”, Oh yeah, and I bought a pole too. They taught me how to Wacky Rig a Senko. Ive caught more fish with that simple tactic than anything else. Fishing late in the afternoon I met fishing Mike and learned how to live bait for trout properly. That got me a limit the next time i fished! And telling fish stories at work has connected me with more good anglers and taught me more tips than I could have imagined. And I’ve learned a few good secret spots along the way!
So, find your local shop, get out there early, and talk about it afterward! Next season… invite me over for the fish fry!
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