7 Ways to Improve Without Being on the Water

Improving this winter

Cabin Fever will set in soon, if it already isn’t in full bloom.  So what to do if you are an angler locked under by snow and ice?  We all hear, or read that “time on the water” is the number one predictor of success.  Is it possible to improve when you are not on the water?  I think it is possible and even crucial that you do so.  Here are 7 ways to accomplish this.

7.  Spend Time Outdoors

Those of you who are hunters, especially water fowl hunter, but all hunters really, have this one licked.  Ever noticed the most successful anglers are often the most successful hunters?  Force yourself to spend time outside, regardless of the conditions and you’ll see why.

  • Acclimate yourself to the weather.  Figure out what it takes to stay warm, dry and comfortable (other than staying inside) and you’ll increase your confidence in dealing with adverse conditions on those late winter, early spring outings.  Personally, I believe in layering including some type of vest to keep your core warm and topped off with a Gore-Tex layer.  But each person needs to figure this out form themselves.  The bottom line is staying warm without sweating too much and cutting the wind penetration down and staying dry.  All of this without sacrificing too much on comfort and freedom of movement.
  • Get in tune with nature’s cycles.  Groundhog?  Who?  See for yourself.  You’ll start to tune into the hum of nature and get your own early warning about a fast approaching spring or a long winter.  Don’t get caught up in today’s weather or temperatures.  Focus on general trends, growth cycles, length of days and angle of the sun.

6.  Organize your boat

More than just “organize”.  Empty the whole boat.  Clean every compartment.  Inspect wiring, hardware, fittings.  Tighten down loose things.  Then sit back and contemplate some on how to make things more efficient, create more space, lighten the load some.  Decide what needs to go back in.  No need to have a bunch of stuff for summertime in there.  What will you need in the first few outings?  Make sure an extra set of clothes is in there.  If you fall in or get cold and wet, this extra step can be a life saver.

5.  Organize & Do Maintenance on your tackle

Rethink your whole “system” here.  If you didn’t use something last season or the last two years, reevaluate if it needs to stay on the bench or get released.  When it comes to terminal tackle, (hooks, weights, swivels, etc.), do an inventory of what you have and what you need for your next purchase.  Sharpen or put new hooks on crankbaits and topwaters.  When it comes to rods, give them a good going over looking for bad guides, or reel seats.   Reels can be broken down, cleaned and re lubed. Go through your line and see what is old and needs to be replaced.  If you are spooling with mono/copolymer or flourocarbon, then strip those reels of that stuff from last year and re spool.  Consider moving to all braid for your main line needs and then just worry about leaders.

4.  Read/Watch/Listen

While this is not an extensive list, below is a list of some of the best resources out there that you might not have heard of:

3.  Learn a New Technique

You may have heard that to learn how to use _______ you need to spend a whole day with nothing but that lure out on the water.  While I don’t think that’s the worst advice in the world, it’s a gross over simplification of a process that starts long before you get on the water.  Especially in today’s world of information everywhere, learning how to use “x” can happen well before you actually get to do it in April, May or June.

2.  Learn a New Technology

“Overwhelming” is a term I hear a lot when it comes to today’s fishing technologies and electronics.  What makes it even more intimidating is just when you think you’ve got something figured out, they go and come out with a new and improved model.  It’s the “Appleification” of the fishing industry.  Electronics “version 1” is released but they already have “version 2” ready to go and are designing version 3.  It makes it very challenging for fishermen to keep up.  But try to step back for a second and ask, “what is the core concepts around this technology that I need to figure out”.  It may be how to interpret sonar, or down or side imaging.  It may be how to put what I see and interpret on a map or on my fish finder screen to use on the water.  It may be about organizing all this information about what’s below the surface into something that doesn’t leave me overwhelmed with waypoints.  Evaluate where you are as an angler when it comes to today’s technology and take a first step at getting more comfortable with it.

1.  Study Maps

No one map is going to serve all your needs.  But you can develop a workflow around your off season scouting and how to turn that into more productive days on the water.  The resources are all there and easily accessed.  Creating a system where you can take that “aha!” moment you had looking at a map and put your boat right there in March, making the right cast at the right angle will make all the difference in the world.  Know where things are is the first step.  Coming up with a system for marking and finding those things while on the water is the next step.  This is some of the most advanced and challenging concepts to be covered by GOA.  But also the most rewarding.

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