Basic fishing tips
Motto: "If you wanna get fish, keep your bait wet!" - Tony Hussey aka 15LBBASS
WARNING: This section is intended to help players that have little or no experience of fishing in real-life, so it'll probably be boring for the proficient anglers! :)
Fish - friend or foe?
Neither! It's better to consider fish as a worthy adversary. Keep in mind that fish in this game behave and react just like they would in real life, not like mindless clusters of pixels. They have senses, instincts, and even some tricks "up the sleeve". You should think twice before casting just any lure or any bait to any random place in the water if you're hoping to catch something. In short, you have to think to outsmart the fish and experience the joy of a nice catch.
How to locate the fish
Fish tend to choose their hiding spots based on underwater structures and terrain. Any logs, rocks, any cluster of underwater vegetation, any weed beds or lily pads, any breaks in water bottom "continuity", any transition areas from muddy to sandy/rocky bottom etc. is a place where you're likely to find some fish. Explore all these places and you will surely find your prey. (This sub-section will be filled with information about how to "read the water", as soon as I get a few answers from the development team.)
In contrast to land, where sight is the dominant sense, things are a bit different when it comes to water. Fish locate their food or prey using a different arsenal of senses, pretty much in this order:
- Hearing / vibrations / pressure detection: using lateral line sensors, fish locates a "general area" where something "unusual" happens - the movement of the worm on your hook, the vibration generated by the movement of a lure in the water, the noise made by insects used as bait (crickets, dragonflies, grasshoppers etc.). Keep in mind that sound travels in the water almost 5 times faster than in the air, so the fish are very quick to locate the position of the sound source.
- Chemoreception - most of the fish have a very keen sense of smell. Strong smelling baits (like cheese, blood, night crawlers, leeches, cutbaits etc.) can attract fish from afar, if they are placed in the right locations. Also, some lures (mostly soft plastic ones) have a built-in attractant that dissipates in the water during the retrieve, creating a "smell trace".
- Sight - at close range, the fish visually recognize the bait or lure as prey and attack it. Or don't.
On the other hand, some species have an exacerbated territorial instinct and will attack anything that comes close to their stalking, feeding or nesting places. The most notorious of all are pike, who will attack any fish, small water mammals, frogs or other amphibians, and even other pike.
How does weather affect fish
An important part of maximizing your chances of success is understanding how the weather will affect the fishing conditions, because fish, like many other animals, strongly react to the weather. They are extremely sensitive to passing fronts and pressure changes.
The weather ahead of cold fronts will lead to favorable fishing conditions due to lower pressure. Because fish are so good at sensing pressure changes, they will often increase their activity in the days before a cold front moves in, creating better conditions for fishing.
After the front passes through and for a few days after that, conditions will worsen, however. The high pressure that comes after the cold fronts makes fish become lethargic, meaning they won't move as far or as near the surface. Fish are less likely to come up and feed as frequently in high pressure as they would when the pressure is lower.
Warm fronts also bring ideal fishing conditions. Lower pressure and weaker winds will attract fish closer to the surface and liven them up for swimming longer distances.
Rain can affect how well the fish bite as well. Fishing during a light rain makes casting lines less noticeable. Insects are also more likely to be out flying near the surface of the water during or immediately after a light rain, which will bring fish closer to the surface and make them more susceptible to being caught. Rain can also cause more organic matter to run into bodies of water and lure fish to the surface to eat.
Before starting a fishing session, have a look at the weather forecast and on chart that "predicts" fishing activity during the day. That chart can show almost any pattern, from "morning/evening" to "all day long":
However, the chart only shows guidelines, not indisputable rules, so feel free to try at any hour. As a suggestion, use lighter tackle and make your casts in places that offer cover or shade in sunny days (like lily pads) or that provide shelter to small fish or insects in overcast or rainy days (like weed beds on the bottom or reeds along the shore line).
Choosing the right tackle
Many beginner fishermen has problems in identify the right combination of rod, reel and line. The American style of classification make things easier. You should pay attention to 3 characteristics:
- for rods "Line Weight" range
- for reels "Max. Drag" value
- for lines "Test Weight" value
Matching the right items becomes logical now: mount a reel with "Max. Drag" as close as possible to "Line Weight" range of the chosen rod and reel in a line with "Test Weight" in that range and lower than "Max. Drag". This way you preserve the integrity of rod and reel. E.g. ValueSpin rod has a "Line Weight" in 3-7 lb. range. Callisto MG 2000 reel has a "Max. Drag" of 7 lb. A pair made in Heaven! :) Combining this two with any line up to 6 lb. test. and you are good to go!
You have to calibrate the tackle according to estimated size of the fish you try to catch (you can see the average and maximum possible weight for each fish in game, in dedicated pages). It is possible to land a huge striped bass with light tackle, but takes a lot of time and all the skills you have. It's more convenient to go after them with a heavy tackle and reduce to minimum the risks of losing the fish or damaging the tackle.