Fishing has likely been around for about as long as the human species, and during that vast stretch of time, the body of fishing wisdom has grown. But is all of that wisdom actually true? Not by a long shot. We asked a few fishing pros and charter guides to lay bare some of the accepted truths about fishing that aren’t actually true.
First off, I hate fishing myths. It seems like everyone has one, and guides have more. First and foremost is bananas! Bananas are an angler’s best friend. Yep, they are welcome on my boat anytime. In fact, I’ve been known to bring banana bread, banana muffins — heck, even banana milkshakes. It never bothered our fishing. Moon phase is horse hockey, I say. The fish don’t care what the moon phase is. They just want to eat, and sure it’s easier for them to see during a full moon, but think about it — it’s easier for the prey to see, too.
Some fish bite better on certain tides. This is a yes and no myth. I say that because, while I think the fish are going to eat regardless of the tide, they just eat at a different location than when you are targeting them at the preferred tide. I have personally used a 2-year-old tide chart for almost a month.
Here are a few that are true: Never, and I mean never keep the camera close by. You’ll never need it. The same goes for phones, mostly because the cameras on today’s phones are pretty darned good. As for fighting belts, keep them below in a locker where they are hard to get. Last, never leave fish to find fish. It’s sort of true. I have left a bite of 30- to 40-pound kingfish to look for a 50-pounder, only to find out the tournament winner was caught right after I left. I’ve also pulled a 43-pounder out of a little-known, rarely fished hole at the end of a seven-stop day.
Mike Lillemo, professional
As a young boy, my father loved to take me fishing whenever possible. My father was a good fisherman, who loved to tell tales and give advice to whoever would listen. Looking back, I see that not all of his fishing advice and wisdom was accurate. One of my father’s craziest pieces of wisdom was his belief that fishing was better in the rain because the sound of the rain on the water made the fish active. He would tell me the best fishing is when it’s raining hard and you can barely see your bobber. As a kid, I thought he was crazy, but the minute it would start getting cloudy and look like rain, he was yelling at me to grab my fishing rods and raingear.
Over the last 10 years, I’ve dedicated a majority of
my life to fishing. I’ve educated myself on the science and tactics of freshwater fishing, almost to a fault. My knowledge and dedication to fishing has allowed me to become a successful tournament pro angler on multiple regional and national circuits. To this day, I still use a lot of the things my father taught me about fishing, but I’m not fishing in the rain any longer — unless I have to.
My father’s advice about fishing in the rain was not completely wrong; however, there is more to it. See, my father was right that fishing in the rain can be better, but it’s not just because it’s raining. All freshwater fish have air bladders that react to a changing barometer (air pressure). As a weather front approaches, the barometer will rise or fall depending on if the front is warm or cold. When a cold front approaches, the barometer drops and you’ll typically get a form a precipitation. It’s not the rain that turns most fish active: it’s the sudden drop in air pressure fish feel in their air bladder. This pressure change can signal — or as some call it, “trigger” — the fish to become active and they instinctively need to feed. Another slight amendment to my father’s fishing wisdom is that the fishing is typically better as the front is approaching and before it starts to rain — not in the middle of the downpour.
Bernie Schultz, professional
Many anglers believe top-water lures work only under low-light conditions, such as at dawn, dusk or under heavy skies, but that just isn’t the case. The truth is that these types of lures, such as the Rapala Skitterwalk, which I’ve used to attract fish year-round, can produce throughout the day in bright-light conditions as well. The top-water bite is often more dependent on the mood and the position of the fish than light levels. Before discounting a top-water bite, give it a try. The bass will let you know what they want.
Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, professional
One unfounded bit of angling wisdom is that you can’t be too aggressive on the water, and you have to slow down your retrieve and be patient to catch fish. Totally not true. In fact, fishing a lure very quickly or reeling in a lure super fast is often the best way to get fish to bite, especially in clearer water. Many times, the quick pace of a crankbait buzzing by is exactly what you need to trigger a reaction strike from big bass. With an attention-grabbing presentation, you can basically force them to strike the lure.
Tom Neustrom, fishing guide
We all know anglers love to talk about different techniques, favorite baits and their biggest catches. At times, the stories we swap can lead to myths about the sport. One idea I’ve never quite understood is that some species of fish will only bite when it’s cloudy. Many folks believe that walleye, the most coveted species in northern states, especially cannot be caught under bright, sunny conditions. That couldn’t be further from the truth. With the right location and presentation — whether you’re using a jigging rap or a VMC Moon Eye Jig tipped with a minnow over a rock pile — big, golden-bellied walleyes can be caught in just about any scenario.