You pull up to that pond that looks so promising. You pull out your gear, run down to the bank and cast…. and cast, and cast and ….nothing! You begin moving down the shoreline…. still nothing. Finally, after an hour or so, you’ve caught one dink. You’re frustrated, and you think “They’re not biting. Guess I’ll hit the road.” Unfortunately, we’ve all been there. This article is intended to offer you some great ideas, some changes to your approach, which will hopefully give you opportunities to cash in at the bank. For those, like me, without a boat, this article is for you.
STEALTH: The first rule of bank fishing is a quiet approach. That should be a no brainer but you would be surprised. If you are tromping down the bank like a pack of Clydesdale your chances of catching that 5 pounder laying up close to the bank just went out the window. Think like a hunter. Hunters know what I’m talking about. Tread lightly, make minimal noise. Water will transmit vibration, so the closer you get to the water, the more likely it is that fish could feel your vibrations and swim away. When you are in position, try casting 10 ft. away from the bank at a 45 degree angle. Repeat this as you move along the shore. This puts your lure where the fish has less opportunity to see you or “hear” you. STEALTH techniques are the foundation for successful bank fishing.
KEEP MOVING: A lot of bank fishermen get discouraged because, after standing in one spot for 45 minutes, they get no bites, and they leave. Adjust your rule of thumb- If you’re not catching anything in 15 minutes, move down the shoreline or move to a spot providing the fish better cover. Also practice fan casting- from the 10:00 to the 2:00 position- to cover the variable depth and shore/bank structure. Look for those spots where feeding bass could be laying waiting to ambush prey. Remember to strike that balance between moving and patience. I’ve worked a spot for 30 minutes, moved away from it, and gone back to that same spot after 10 minutes and caught four bass on consecutive casts. Keep working the bank, fish move, so should you!
PACK LIGHT: Another common mistake bank fisherman do is packing 50 lbs of tackle and many different rod and reel combos. That is a lot to haul around the pond or lake quietly. Trust me, I’ve been guilty of trying to pack everything but the kitchen sink. But believe me, packing light is the best way to go- one rod and a small fanny pack or back pack. Depending on how you plan to fish, stuff a few worms, a few hooks, maybe a one or two crankbaits, a couple of spinnerbaits and a favorite frog or other topwater. That should be enough. Think about it, do you want to lug 50 pounds of gear halfway around the pond and back? You’ll need a rest just to resume fishing. Or, would you rather be fishing during that time you spent hauling your gear? Go light to focus on the fishing and searching for the structure.
CLOTHING: Here is something a lot of bank fishermen never consider. Some say clothes
make the man. I say, the wrong clothes scare the fish. I like to wear a darker shirt and jeans if I anticipate heavy vegetation, thorn bushes, insects, etc. The technology has really advanced. Clothing is available that protects from harmful UV rays as well as repels dangerous insects such as ticks and mosquitoes. As for color, there are different schools of thought. Some believe a light color against a bright sky makes your silhouette less obvious to a fish. For me, darker colors are more likely to blend in as you’re walking down the bank brush, trees and the bank itself, if high, behind you. Either way, you don’t want the fish to be able to easily pick you out of the scenery. Just like hunting you want to make yourself blend in.
In summary, make a stealthy approach, don’t stick to one spot, move to the structure, vary your casting pattern, take the right gear and not too much of it, and blend in. If you remember these things, then this article has helped give you more confidence to pursue fish along the banks of our many lakes, rivers and ponds and maybe even land a new personal best! I certainly hope it helps you #LiveThePassion!