There are few things that compare to feeling the weight of a fighting fish on your rod. The feeling of drag spooling out and rods tips bending over as you catch fish cast after cast.


Unfortunately, getting to this point can be complicated. Every angler targets different species, favors different tackle, specializes in certain techniques, and simply enjoys fishing for different reasons.  This can make angling information confusing for everyone.

To help you out, together, we have compiled a list of beneficial fishing tips that will help every angler find success on the water.

  1. Research the Ideal Location
  2. Rely on Your Electronics
  3. Maximize Time on the Water
  4. Utilize Local Knowledge
  5. Change Directions


Stocking Reports

An extremely valuable tool to finding fish is stocking reports. Each state more than likely has an online database where you can find the species, number and body of water where fish are stocked in any given year. It is important that once you find this information you know how to use it.

Numbers of fish stocked, while important, does not paint the full picture. The size of fish stocked plays a major part. If you see a million walleye stocked into a lake realize that they were more than likely fry and have a much smaller survival rate than fingerlings.  Also, try a quick calculation of fish per acre. Take the number of fish stocked divided by your target lake’s acreage. Keep in mind though that a lake that is stocked more heavily per acre may just have a lower survival rate, so be aware of misleading numbers.

In general, however, stocking reports should give you a foundation to locate productive waters. Also, many states conduct netting research on what adult fish are present in certain waters. Quickly comparing the two reports may just lead you to your next favorite lake.

An example of a fish stocking report.


Quick Tip: Research growth rates of your target fish species specific to your area to get a general idea of how old the potential trophy fish would need to be and what year they would need to be stocked before!

Social Media Updates

The internet has opened an infinite number of doors to sharing information. While sharing fishing spots on social media has negative influences, such as increased angling pressure, so too it has benefits. Search on Facebook for state or local fishing report groups. You more than likely will not discover an incredible secret body of water this way, but you will stay up to date on some more commonly known lakes and pick up a few tips along the way from other anglers.

Do not be afraid to look for smaller Facebook groups that cater to a niche. More times than not it will be a tighter knit group of anglers and you may even make more than a few new friends who can trade tips and tricks with you.

While fewer states release official fishing reports, there are a few that put out weekly angler reports for a region. The lakes on these lists are much like the Facebook groups, in that the bodies of water will be more pressured and popular bodies of water but they typically produce good quality fish. Do not be afraid to conduct a search to find previous year’s reports online and compare what times of year certain lakes are productive. Using that information to then to hit lakes at the right time or be ahead of the crowd will likely end up with more fish in the net.


Fishing electronics exist to help anglers catch more fish. They provide charts, sonar, images, depth, and even live underwater video to help every angler locate their target species. With so many advanced features, it’s easy to believe that fishing success rates should improve for everyone.

Then why with so much information right at our fingertips, do people still struggle?

Because many anglers don’t know how to read their electronics let alone trust them. 

Understanding your fish finder and its technology requires you to self-educate, identify your own patterns, and spend significant time learning the device.  This means reading manuals, watching videos, and keeping notes. Below we talk about a few common, and extremely useful, tools that can change your fishing game. All you have to do is truly put effort into them.


Contour maps are invaluable.  With the development of lake chips, depth contours, structure, and finding key locations, having a mapping unit will improve your strategy. 

Nowadays, users can improve their charts themselves.  Is there a lake that is missing contours? Mapping software (such as Zero Lines) can even allow you to record your own contour maps with your own boat.  How cool is that?


Basic sonar was the start of fish-finding technology and is still an invaluable tool today.  This basic 2D technology allows anglers to identify structure and life, revolutionizing the fishing world.  This should be part of every angler’s toolkit. 

Down Imaging

Down imaging takes sonar technology to the next level.  It allows you to see structure in much greater detail (and greater distance) by using higher frequency waves. This not only helps you identify whether you are looking at debris or weeds, but also helps you identify fish.  One of the biggest benefit’s is being able to identify how many individuals are located in a given location.

It helps differentiate between structure and schools of fish in situations where traditional sonar doesn’t quite show you the full picture.

The only downfall? It’s going to up your cost. 

Side Imaging

Side imaging takes technology even further by letting you see greater distances. It uses a beam that can scan hundreds of feet on each side of your boat, letting you identify more fish and where those fish are.

Read Your Manual

As painful as it sounds, spending time browsing your manual will help you fully understand the capabilities of your unit. Whether you are learning how to use your mapping feature, contouring a lake, or trying to understand side imaging (SI); opening up your manual is the perfect place to start.

Utilize Video

Watching video is another fantastic way to educate yourself on your unit.  Whether you are using Lowrance, Humminbird, Garmin, or something entirely different, almost every manufacturer and professional angler has a video on YouTube to help you out.

Learn to use this resource.

These are free and simple resources that will help every angler learn to use their electronics, no matter which species they are targeting.

Spend Time With the Unit

Our final advice is to spend time with the unit. It’s easy to mount the unit on your boat without putting time into learning it.  Experiment with settings, with features, and put time into understanding what the technology is meant to do. 

QUICK TIP: Fish are often identified on sonar and down imaging as “arches”.  However, even with DI (down imaging) identifying what these marks are can be difficult at times.  That’s why it’s a great idea to train your eye.

To do this,  we recommend using an underwater camera for comparison purposes. These images can help you learn how to identify fish from structure.  After a while, you’ll get a quick eye for what “weeds” or “structure” are actually holding fish!


After arming yourself with the research and knowledge to be successful, it is now time to put that to use. It has been said it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, however, there are not nearly enough hours in the day, especially when it comes to getting on the water.

Most of us have very busy lives and being on the water every day or even every weekend just simply isn’t in the cards. What is important is when you can fish to maximize your time on the water.

Early to Rise, Late to Bed

To maximize your time on the water, pack your gear the night before, wake up well before sunrise, and stay out until last light– if not into darkness. Do a quick search to find the sunrise for your location and time of year. First light usually starts 30 minutes before that time so take that into account when setting your alarm. If you pack the night before or the few days prior to a big fishing trip, you will be ready to roll after your morning cup of coffee.

Often times too it is these early hours of the morning or late hours of the evening, as the sun touches the horizon that you will find the most success. Low light conditions are often strongly correlated with fish feeding activity.

Being on the water from sunup to sundown is no easy task. Fatigue from casting all day or being in the boiling sun, strong winds, or cold rain will wear on you but by learning any and all conditions mixed with variables such as moon cycles, water temperature, and time of year will make you the best angler you can be– and the most successful!

Do Not Burn Out

One last little tip to maximize your time on the water– bring good food and stay hydrated. That may seem like a no-brainer to most, but if you bring a couple of freeze dried food packages such as Mountain House and a small camping burner to heat up water, you will have the energy to stay out longer and go the extra mile. If you skip breakfast, eat chips and a pop for lunch, you are more than likely not have the energy to stay out all day.

Even if the fishing bite is so hot it’s on fire, and it is near impossible to pry the fishing rod out of your hand, take time to listen to your body and refuel.   High protein snacks like tuna, protein bars, and trail mix are also a great thing to pack along with drinks with electrolytes.


One of the best ways to dominate a new location is to find local knowledge.  Reach out to local bait shops, find residents who are active on social media and most importantly, don’t be shy!

These people can inform you about the area, teach you about the local bait, and make you a better angler.

In fact, some of the best fishing I’ve experienced has involved reaching out to people who knew more than me, whether it be the area or their skill level.  I was able to learn and catch fish, from their knowledge.

Doing this has not only made me a better angler but presented me with incredible opportunity as well.

Quick Tip: Start following some of your favorite anglers in the area on social media. Not only might you find tips and strategies on their profiles, but many will gladly help you out. All you need to do is simply ask!



It is easy to stick to lakes, techniques, and tactics even long after they are productive. Recalling past success can hinder your ability to adapt to the fishing conditions. What worked even a few hours ago may not be what is working now. Adapting to the here and now can be the difference between success and failure.

Slow it Down

There are two main reasons why a feeding fish will become an inactive fish: water temperature, and weather conditions. Metabolism in a fish is greatly dependant on the surrounding water temperature. The warmer the water the more often a fish will have to eat. For example, a muskie in 40-degree water more than likely will not be willing to chase down your bucktail burned a lightspeed. However, a glide bait worked with well-timed pauses may prove to be too much to resist.

Trigger The Reaction Strike

Lightning fast retrieves, sharp jerks, jigging with quick rod pops are all part of triggering a reaction strike. Warmer water and a faster metabolism signal power fishing that allows for different erratic retrieves to catch fish. However, even in cold water when slowing it down just doesn’t seem to be working, you may have to trigger a fish’s aggression instinct. These fish are the ones not looking to feed even if a slow jig gets dragged across their face. Make them mad– have your lure be something they cannot help but nip at.

Switch Lakes

When all else fails, switch location. At times fishing on one body of water may be ice cold, while another lake close by is dynamite. True, there are patterns that you may be overlooking that would make the fish on a body of water bite, but when you feel frustration setting in, go explore the lake next door. The moment a day of fishing ceases to be fun switch it up! That is, after all, the most important part.

Putting it Together

Sometimes remembering the basics is the best way to improve your angling success.  From maximizing your time on the water to learning your electronics, how much effort you put in will dictate how much you get out of it.

There are even times when we spend too much effort on complicating our techniques, that we even forget the basics.  Therefore, we both recommend you reference these basic, but necessary tips, next time you are strugging to find that bite.

About The Author

Die-hard muskie & trout angler with a passion. Kayak fishing, Hybrid chasing, Sunrise ↠ Sunset,

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