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The question I am asked the most…

The question I am asked the most…


I want to take a minute to answer the question that I am asked the most: How do you pick spots to fish? What makes this question more interesting is I am asked it by clients, friends, and random internet people at a rather regular pace. Many are looking for pointers on how to better use their time on the water, and some as we know, are playing the long-con waiting to ask for specific spots when they feel emboldened. No matter their intentions, I try and tell everyone the same things to help them become better fishermen and women.

Study the maps to understand the water; Think like a fish.

I use this two-part system to break down a large area of water into manageable sized chunks of what I call ‘fish water’ and ‘fisherman water’. The former being where you will want to spend your valuable fishing time, the latter being where you want to avoid wasting your time for a variety of reasons.

Study the maps to understand the water.

When Google first released its satellite imagery fishermen rejoiced at the ability to see aerial shots of the coast to find good locations. I use the maps to look for coastal bays with narrow openings all along the coast. Once I find these, I research them further to see which lead into herring runs and other baitfish spawning habitat. Right away, these areas should be more productive than those that do not have large bait populations. I follow this by looking at the bottom contours, more specifically the channel as it winds its way out of the bay. I am looking for locations where the deep water comes close to a shallow shelf or the shore to allow us access to fish that might be holding deeper. We eliminate areas to avoid by analyzing characteristics of the shoreline, current flow and direction, wind issues, and access to bait. If any two of these factors are going against you, it’s time to look for a new location. By separating the water into ‘fish water’ and ‘fisherman water’ we have created a plan to maximize our time and efforts on the water.

Think like a fish.

When I am looking at a new location, I first imagine what the daily cycle of any baitfish in the area would be. Just like the big fish, I want to know where the bait is. It is the first step to finding fish. I then survey the area paying close attention to transitions in bottom composition and what type of water we are seeing the most bait in. Then I start to think like a gamefish and begin my hunt searching all the areas that I have identified as potentially holding fish based on my map study, and firsthand observations on the water. With knowledge of the underwater environment, the daily cycle of baitfish, and the methodology of a predatory game fish it is a matter of time until you put your fly or lure right where it needs to be, and then: FISH ON!

Interested in a guided float or wading fly or conventional tackle fishing trip for stripers, pike, trout, and bass? Check out earlyriseoutfitters.com or contact me at patrick@earlyriseoutfitters.com.


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