Monday, February 6, 2017

How To Consistently Catch Fish - Step 2: Go Small and Use Magic

Most people who want to learn how to fish give up in frustration because they do not catch much. It is very discouraging to fish for several days and either catch nothing, or only catch very small fish. For twenty years I tried and failed to be a good fisherman. Oh, some days I would catch a nice one, but most days I would catch nothing. Several times I gave up, going a couple years without fishing.

Things changed about a year ago. I learned a few simple things that has helped me consistently catch fish. I still don't catch monsters, but I do catch keepers every time I go out. Your heard that right, I have not gotten skunked in over a year.

The tips I am going to share in this guide are simplistic, no brainers to some. Seasoned fishermen will scoff, even disagree. However, if you are a beginner fisherman or a frustrated fisherman, I can guarantee you will catch more fish and have more fun if you follow my plan.

There are some things you need to keep in mind:

First, like all hobbies, it takes some money to get good at fishing. You will not need to spend a lot of money, but you will not be able to do it for free.

Second, this guide is for warm, freshwater species and inshore salt water species. If you are want to catch cold water species, like trout or salmon, look elsewhere. Those species require a different technique.

Third, this guide only entails what I did to succeed. Every successful fisherman has their own technique. You will eventually find your own. Don't be afraid to experiment.

On to the guide.....

Like most long time anglers I have hundreds, even thousands of dollars invested in lures and terminal tackle. I've gone through many fazes. There was my topwater faze where I purchased just about every topwater lure made, from the Jitterbug to the Hula Popper to the Tiny Torpedo. Then there was live bait faze that came with about 20 pounds of sinkers and every hook size and shape possible. At one point I was convinced the only was to catch fish was with carved balsa crank baits. Thanks goodness that one did not last long!  More recently there has been the very expensive fly fishing stage and the productive, but ultimately frustrating ultralight stage.

All of these techniques are fun and can be very productive, but none of them are productive consistently. Plus, if you are going to catch fish consistently you need to carry a hundred or more lures, and the lure specific rods, with you so that you can find what the fish want.

When I began fishing from a kayak I was forced to limit the amount of gear I could carry. I was limited to about 3 rods and two Plano stowaway boxes. Now that I have a little more experience  I carry even less.

You see, I have learned that you only need two lures to catch fish all day, every day.

They are.....

A small crappie jig and a Gulp! swimming mullet on a 1/4 oz jig head.

I know, I know, you don't believe me. But it is true! I catch 90% of my fish on these two lures. The other 10% is caught on live bait. And let me reiterate, I always catch fish and I did not used to before I began to exclusively use these.

One of the best lures ever invented.
Lets talk about the crappie jig first. The lowly crappie jig is most productive in fresh water. It should be fished with a long ultralight rod and with a maximum of 6 pound test line. I prefer 4 pound test. My favorite color is white, but I think the color is less important that its size and action. Be sure the grub tail swims with the slightest twitch.

Caught with a white crappie jig on 4 pound test line.
Many people think that you cannot catch large fish with a lure so small. This is a myth. Next time you catch and keep a large fish, open its stomach. In it you will most likely find all sorts of stuff, most of it small. At first, it will seem like you are only catching small fish, but the truth is you are catching the fish that would have ignored your large bait. The large fish that attack a large bait will also attack your small bait. Plus, you have a smaller chance of spooking a wise, old fish with the small bait.

Another nice fish, courtesy of the white grub.
I switch to the white crappie grub when my magic bait does not work. Magic? Yes, rabbit out of the hat, levitating magic.

There is one lure that out performs everything on the market. I am convinced it works even better than live bait in most instances. It is messy, delicate, and expensive. But, it is also imbued with the magic essence of the fishing gods. What is this wonderful bait? Gulp! Alive. Specifically. Gulp! Alive 4" Swimming Mullet.

Discovering this bait was one of the best things that ever happened to me (from a outdoorsmans perspective). Actually, I take that back. Discovering this bait was one of the best things that ever happened to me period.

fishing october 0191

Just place this lure on a 1/4oz jig head and start using it. You will catch fish. Inshore fish especially love it. I like to slowly retrieve it along the bottom using a medium fast action rod and ten pound test line.


This summer I did several tests with this bait. I rigged two identical poles, one with Gulp and the other with a lure that looked and acted like Gulp, but was not Gulp. I made a cast with the Gulp, then a cast with the Gulp look alike. Each time I did this I caught all my fish on the Gulp, and barely got a strike on the "Not Gulp". The tests were very definitive in my mind.


Gulp is not perfect, however. It must be kept marinading in the special magic Gulp juice. So, every time you have to replace an old one you get all Gulpy. And replace you will. I feel lucky if I catch three fish on one bait. They are very delicate. Small fish will nip off its swimming tail quickly.

fishing october 006
Gulp! (as a trailer on a bucktail)
It is also ridiculously expensive. I use between $10 and $15 of Gulp every time I go out. For me it is the difference between catching fish and not catching fish, so the expense is worth it. By the way, don't think you can cheat and marinade other plastics in the gulp juice and it will work the same. Gulp baits are like sponges that soak up the heavenly Gulp juice. Regular plastics just get coated with the stuff and then wash off after the first cast.

first day of school 083
It should be noted that not all Gulp! products are created equal. Some, like the sand fleas and earth worms are almost useless. Others like the Pogy and Mud Minnow are OK, but not great. Still others like the Peeler Crab and Swimming Mullet are real winners. Gulp has a real problem with creating action, their stuff is stiff.

first day of school 080

Of course, it is not just the bait. You have to find the fish and make a good presentation. We will cover that next.....

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