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By Jim Porter

First off, since we have never sat down and talked to the fish and asked some questions, most fishing 'theories' are just that -- theories. A lot of what we read and hear comes from a writer or people who just repeat what someone told them. That's hearsay. May be good data - may be trash.

You can't sit in the back of someone's boat and learn great things about fishing. If you don't do it yourself, it may or may not be factual. Outdoor writers are generally heresy repeaters. Not all, of course; but, a good many. I am a writer, so I know where I am coming from on this. Bottom line -- again, you CANNOT take as fact what you read in a magazine, see on the weekend boob-tube fishing show (I used to do those shows, too), or what someone tells you. I have a number of Florida fishery biologists that tell me there is no real factual evidence that bass migrate on a regular basis, are affected by light, or can/cannot distinguish colors. Shades of black, gray, white - yes. Colors?? No one really knows.

When someone tells you something and states it as real fact, you have to understand he is probably giving you what HE THINKS based on HIS EXPERIENCES. We all have those and if they repeat enough, we tend to come to think they are gospel truths. (Then, one day, the lure or color doesn't work and we go back to square one!!).

That out of the way, I will give you my opinion (a LOT of experience). I am on the water 200-250 days a year. Have done so for many years. I have fished around the World and most of the US.

Regarding migration theory, deep to shallow and back again on a regular basis -- This is about the ONLY thing in Buck Perry's theories that I disagree with. It doesn't hold up. Movement studies tend to disprove it. I have disproved it to myself. BUT, the fact about most of the fish being off-shore and out of the shallows most of the time is really true (again, my experience). Normal water clarity (that of the majority of the time) in a given body of water will set a 'pattern depth' for fish in a given lake. Some will be shallower, some deeper - but, the majorities seem to prefer certain depth ranges appear that correspond to the water clarity.

Water clarity has two uses to the fish. It hides him and it absorbs light. It also may mean that there is more algae content, therefore a more fertile lake (algae is the general starting point of the food chain for fish). My experience is that light intensity drives fish either deeper or into an area of shade. It is not the heat of the summer sun that does it. Remember jumping off that dock and how quickly it gets cold at 6-8 feet? That easily dispels the hot water myth.

Maybe the fish sunburn if they get too much sun. That's a wild thought, but it could be. You put a fish in a real shallow pool of reasonable clear water and most will die pretty quick.

Personally, I think it is the light that forces them to move. No one has proven so, but the actions of the fish make the theory fit. Examples - early and late, the sun is at a lower oblique angle. The more the angle of the light from the vertical, the more of that light that is deflected and less that penetrates the surface. Fishing is usually better with some chop or ripple on the water. That does the same thing - diffuses the light. The uneven water surface simply deflects the light and reduces absorption. Simple physics there.

Biologically, look at a fish. It has no eyelids and can't blink or squint. It has no dilating pupil to control the amount of light allowed to enter the eye (maybe something internally can control light entry; but, we don't know). Given these observations on his eye, it would fit the theory that a fish will position itself in an area of comfort regarding the light. That could be depth or shade. We know both seem to help our fishing when it is a bright day, just like that chop on the water seems to help of that same bright day.

Whatever the REAL case, it does not matter one bit, IF your theory appears to work.

Now, as to early feeding habits -- Most fishermen want to be up with the roosters and home in time to take Momma to the Mall. So, they may catch their fish early. My long experience has been that I catch more fish between noon and 6 PM by far than at any other time. The 17 years I have lived in Florida tells me this is doubly true for the Sunshine State. But, it may have more to do with my fishing habits than the fish. I rarely fish early anymore. Seems better later in the day, so I sleep in. Fish will eat whenever they are hungry and the food is available. I doubt it has much to do with the time of day. They don't wear watches, anyway.

Hatchery-raised fish show absolutely no preference to time of day when they are using feeder systems that the fish bump to activate. In fact, the data shows they seem to consume more food at NIGHT, by far. Maybe it's that light thing again. Who knows? But, again, it seems that it fits the theory.

Fish are NEVER going to just 'jump into the boat' for us. So, when you ask 'When is fishing good?', the answer is that it can always be good or always be bad. It depends on the angler. HE/SHE catches the fish.

External conditions are just something to be adapted to.

Forget the moon. If it does have an effect, you will never really realize it in your day-to-day fishing. With some experience, you can tell a bit about the peak of a spawning period using it, but it is not always accurate for that, either.

Weather affects fishermen more than fish. My 40+ plus years of doing this have told me that trying to fish in wind, rain, cold, etc. keeps me from being comfortable, applying myself properly and hinders my boat handling (interpreted as 'lure presentation'). Wind can hurt, yes it can. But, I am at the point where I have a system where it actually helps me most times. Wind creates induced currents and those water currents funnel in and around obstructions, both above and below the water. Current brings fish. It never fails to do that. But, like any other time, you have to find that 'right place'.

Catching fish is sorta like picking apples -- first you have to find the apple tree. Then, the picking is easy.

If you are in the 'learning stage' and are willing to be open-minded and learn, let me tell you that most excuses for not catching fish are just that -- excuses. Moon, cold front, falling barometer, rising barometer, wind, rising water, falling water, muddy water, clear water - all are conditions which affect WHERE the fish may be and how they may position. BUT, NONE affect their feeding from a biological standpoint. They are predators and will eat whenever prey happens by. From an environmental standpoint, however, their ABILITY to feed (not their desire) can be affected somewhat.

Muddy water is a good example, in that they have to rely more on sound/feel of water pressure movements, etc., than on sight. That makes them slower and less successful in the hunt.

Cold always slows a cold-bloodied creature down, just because its bodily metabolism slows down. But, cold fronts ONLY affect the first couple of feet of the water column. It normally does not make the water any colder 6 feet down. Same with summer heat. The surface can be 90 degrees. You go dive off that dock and you'll be quick to see that the temperature is a nice 70, or less, 7-8 feet down. Fish generally find some comfortable range year-round. That place is ALSO where their food supply is.

They will NEVER be far from the food source. That's a key point.

Rather than learning to find fish, we really should learn to concentrate on finding their prey supply. The rest would then be a 'given'. You just have to find it (the hard part).

Confidence is an acquired comfort of knowing what you are doing is highly likely to wind up successful. It makes you fish hard and apply yourself. It makes you keep that lure wet (remember the limited value of the dry ones). So, if you happen to like a color and it works for you, use that puppy. If you can catch more fish at daylight than at noon, by all means do that. BUT, don't fall victim to all the old tales and fables of fishing. There are so many and they are mostly just excuses for not having caught something.

When all is said and done, you and I are the determining factors in whether, or not, we catch fish. Not the conditions (we have to adapt and overcome those), certainly not the fish (he's dumb as a rock), and not what we may read or hear as being gospel according to someone paid to write or say something.

Fishing is NOT that hard. It's just common sense. Leave all the mysterious stuff to the Loch Ness hunters. Keep an open mind. Fishing is NOT hard, unless you make it so. There is a simple answer for everything. We may not know all of them yet, but we're working on them.

I suggest that all anglers read two books. Both are outstanding and to the point. They will do more for your fishing success than 20 years of experience on the water:
  • Buck Perry's 'Spoonplugging' book (forget the name of the book; it means little; it's the theories you want to absorb and try to prove or disprove; you win either way)
  • Charlie Brewer's 'Slider Fishing' book (the late inventor of the famous Slider lures and fishing system tells you what fishing really is and how to be successful at it)


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