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Thinking about past fishing trips

Think about fishing trips that could have been great, but certain little things happened to prevent you from filling the limit or getting that giant trophy to bite. To make the most out of your time spent on the water, it’s important to pay attention to the details. Even the tiniest details. So here are some tips that will help you enjoy more success this season...


How many times have you heard your buddy or the guy at the bait shop say “oh you should have been here yesterday!”? Seems like it never fails. But there’s a good way to avoid this, and that’s by keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the lakes and rivers around your area.

Pay attention to local chatter. Ask questions among your fishing friends and at the bait shop. Believe me, the local tackle store WANTS to keep you informed because if a bite is on, that means they’ll sell more bait!

Also, stay tuned to the fishing forums online to get the area reports for different lakes and species. Even secretive fishermen can find it hard to keep their mouths shut about a hot day/lake/bait that they’ve experienced.

When you hear about fish that have gone active, be prepared to get up and go. I know this can be more easily said than done - since people have schedules to keep and obligations to meet. But if you can remain fairly flexible about the exact day that you’re going to hook up the boat and go, then you can improve your odds of being the guy who says “you should have been there yesterday.”


Never underestimate a fish’s ability to smell or taste. They do both quite well. Their sense of smell operates through two small holes that may look like nostrils but are called “nares.” The nares open up into a chamber lined with sensory pads. Fish rely upon their sense of smell for two reasons: to detect food and danger. So, if an underwater smell is completely unnatural, they can and will stay clear of that area or go into a negative, cautious mood.

Fish detect tastes with receptors inside their mouths and on the outside of their skin. Their “taste buds” are very sensitive and can distinguish the difference between sweet, sour, salty and bitter flavors.

With these two facts in mind, it’s critical for a successful angler to keep their hands clean when handling lures, line and bait. The good news is that there’s finally a cleaner called Reel Clean that completely eradicates any odors on your hands, including the foulest smelling fuels, lower-unit lube or any odor mankind can encounter. It even takes out skunk! Keep your hands scent-free with Reel Clean when you go fishing and I promise you will catch more fish.


When it comes to equipment, the thing I stress most to anglers is the importance of having fresh line (and the right line) on your rod/reel. Old, brittle, coiled monofilament will cost you a lot of fish in terms of break-offs and bites (since baits on coiled line don’t swim as naturally).

So re-spool every year. And even though it costs more up front, try spooling up with a high-quality braided line. The strength-to-diameter ratio is dynamite; today’s braids are very supple and easy to handle; plus it won’t go bad like mono and you can use it season after season.


Having proper focus is important in any sport, from baseball to bass fishing. Great athletes visualize the action before it happens, and successful fishermen do the same thing. Here’s an example of what I mean:

Let’s say your fishing for bass on a weed line with a rubber worm. You’re hopping it along the bottom in and around cover. Keep your eyes fixed on your rod tip and the line coming off of it. This focus will visually alert you if you get a strike (a rod twitch on a hard bite; or a line twitch on a soft bite).

As you work the bait, imagine what your bait must look like down at the bottom. Visualize the action in your mind as you hop it, swim it, and drag it. Also visualize a giant bass right behind it - following every movement you impart to the worm. By visualizing it, you heighten your senses for “feel.” Dedicating yourself to visualization will keep you more alert and improve your reflexes - so when the imaginary bass actually becomes a real bass biting your lure, you’ll react quickly and improve your chances for a solid hook-set.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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