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Whether in fishing or life; Don’t count the days, make the days count! Although diligent, experienced anglers can catch striped bass all year long, there are basically two seasons centered around the migration- to the north in the spring, and back south in the fall. Honestly, I am very happy to “spring” into Fall this year. This past spring was a disappointment for me. Yes, I caught fish, but I had to really move around as I could not find much consistency in the spots that usually produce during the spring season.

Being a guide, and as part of a small network of serious fisherman, I know this was the case for many others. There were small pockets of fish in certain areas, but that bite went as quickly as it came. One factor I believe had a big impact on the lack of consistency was the weather. The conditions were changing almost daily. There were other factors- such as not seeing much good bait, and we all know if there’s no food there won’t be bass hanging around- but weather may have been the biggest factor.

So, if you’re like me and want to make up for the so-so spring, how should you approach the fall? Being a big advocate for consistency, the best way to approach this fall is the same way you fished last fall- that is, if you had success. Check your logbooks and your notes. Hit those spots that were productive for you and use the same presentations. If you didn’t keep a log, now you can begin to understand the importance of keeping one all the time. Note the days you catch and the days you don’t. Record the weather, the tides, the presentations that worked and those that didn’t. This is the info you need to plan your fall approach.

Don’t have blinders on and just focus on your usual locations, because if they didn’t produce last year or were inconsistent in their production, you are going to want to have other options. Your backup plan options should be areas you already researched and noted BEFORE you hit the water for the fall run. Any new places should be seen during daylight at low tide. This will help you identify various structure present in the area. You should also be double-checking your usual spots for changes in structure as well.

You’ll want to stay on top of what bait patterns you see in each area to plan your lure selection. “Match the hatch”, because in most cases fish will strike at the matching profile. Keep a close eye on the weather patterns, moon cycles, tides, winds, etc. to get the most production out of each outing. If you are prepared. You can BE the fishing report instead of chasing someone else’s fishing report. Oh, you will still want to read the other reports to give you an idea of what’s happening. Talk to the guys in the local tackle shops. Their knowledge and experience can be a huge asset. The guys in the shop see and hear almost everything that is happening daily. They do a lot of fishing themselves and are a wealth of knowledge- not only for purchasing gear but also for intel on what is and what is not happening in the local area.

Bottom line? To have a productive season you must get out there as much as you can- for your planning, even BEFORE things really start happening. You can’t catch fish if your line’s not in the water. When you get to the water, you want to make sure your planning has put you in the best position to catch fish every day- or night- you’re out there. Preparation, research, and education are key to having consistently productive fishing trips. Sure, it takes a lot of time, but like anything else, to have success you must invest the time. There’s no substitute for hard work. The payoff comes when you put yourself in the right position to “Fall” into the right pattern and land your fish of a lifetime. Live the Passion! Tightlines! features a monthly surfcasting blog from Bernie Hoyt, a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with 40+ years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast, and now has a radio show- TightLines with Bernie Bass & The Captain- where listeners are treated to the latest gear reviews and techniques for the surf fishing, and other interesting developments in the saltwater in-shore and offshore fishing scene. Join Bernie on the radio Saturday morning and Sunday evening on Contact Bernie for more more details on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services.

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