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Fish Finder

How To Find Fish: The Ultimate Guide


Locating Fish

My entire life I have been an avid fisherman, since I was old enough to hold a snoopy pole.  From freshwater, to saltwater, offshore to inshore, I have targeted many different species of fish in many different locations.  I have fished several tournaments, but there is nothing better than watching the sunrise or sunset from a body of water.  The serenity of the waves and that explosive top water bite right as the day starts are what keep me going back.  Throughout my fishing career there are a few concepts about fish that I have grown to understand.


Fish on the Brain

Fishermen must learn to think like a fish.  Fish are very simple creatures requiring the same conditions as every other animal to live.  A fish’s life revolves around foodshelter, and breeding. Whether your targeting a large gator trout, marlin, or largemouth bass, all fish respond to the same environmental influences.


The most difficult part about fishing is finding the fish.  You can cast all day but if there are no fish around you probably wont catch anything. 

Tip 1- cover a lot of ground.  I cam not stress this enough. A lot of times you can target structure to find fish, bridges, rocks, oyster shell, offshore wrecks, drop-offs, trees, all these structures provide protection for fish.  Most importantly structure hold bait, which provides food for fish.  The use of a depth finder is very useful when searching for fish, also don’t be afraid to watch other people in order to key in on where the fish are holding. 


Once you have located a good area where fish are holding, you have to observe and see what the fish are feeding on.  As a general rule of thumb I like to “match the hatch” meaning whatever the fish are feeding on in that particular spot, time of year, or tide, I try to fish with.  A lot of times I try to catch what the fish are actually eating!  .  That is usually the absolute best way.  If you see redfish eating mullet in the grass, don’t be surprised if they wont eat a shrimp at that particular time.  A cast net, sabiki rig, or a large selection of artificials in order to find what they are feeding on.  As a general artificial rule I fish light colors on light days, and dark colors on dark days. 


When I am fishing a new area that is unfamiliar I do a lot of observing,  I watch how the bait moves in that particular area, how they enter and exit the creek, flat ect.  The fish will follow the bait and I want to capitalize on this.  I look for birds, ripples, swirls, anything to tip me off on a fish being in that location.  On a recent kayak trip in Jacksonville I paddled two miles without casting. This happen frequently when I am scouting a new area. After a while,  I spotted mullet jumping across the bay. I knew this seemed like good activity so I proceeded to cast, after a long paddle. I started casting a large top water lure to match the mullet size, and I got hit after hit. That top water lure was on fire.  That day I slayed the trout because I took the time to observe and fish with what the fish were biting on!

Another huge aspect that gets overlooked while fishing is fish eyesight.  Fish do not grow large without being somewhat intelligent.  Large fish usually feed once or twice a day, and it coincides with lunar feeding times from what I have learned.  You can find these online or in many apps.  When I target quality fish I like to use long leader, flurocarbon, small hooks, and any other advantage I can give myself to fool a large fish.  A native American once told me “big bait, catch big fish.”  I really took this to heart when targeting large trophy fish.  I have seen a 10 lb largemouth eat a 1 lb crappie, a 30 inch trout eat a 10 inch mullet.  It is amazing what happens when you increase bait size. 

Dale and Striper

Fish like to conserve energy.  When fishing in a river or ocean, with current, fish and bait hold around structure.  Fish use this structure because it slows down the current and provides an ambush point for feeding.  For example when targeting striped bass in lakes, when the damn is opened, you are more likely to catch fish.  That water movement triggered bait movement, and incited a large feeding time.  

One time when I was at the damn fishing I cleaned up the striped bass. Every cast was a catch. There were three large rocks at the base of the damn outlet that the fish would sit behind and ambush bait.  With a perfect cast into the eddy line of these rocks it was an immediate bite.  After a fish was hooked on each rock it took 5-10 minutes for the school to settle back down and begin feeding.  Look for any change in the current, up-wellings, down-wellings, rocks, sandbars, any structure that changes the flow of the current.


The spawn is what drives fish, it compels salmon to swim upstream to reproduce, fish will risk death in order to ensure that their species survives.  Fish migrate large distances, to river mouths, damns, stump fields, flats, wherever that particular species spawns. At certain times these fish are very aggressive when feeding due to the fact the females are trying to grow eggs and need nutrients.   Other times, when spawning is actually occurring the fish will not eat at all.  It depends on the fish, and timing of the spawn.  Pre-spawn and post-spawn are uaually the most effective time to catch large fish due to the increased need for food.

LETS TIE IT ALL TOGETHER..................

In summary fishing and catching fish comes down to thinking like a fish.  Food, shelter, feed times and the spawn all effect a fishes behavior.  I hope that sharing this information will help you become a better fisherman and put meat in the cooler.  Please let us know at Hunting and Fishing Depot forums if this has helped you or if you have any further questions email me at

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