What Else?

You’ve all heard the saying – something like “10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish.”
I was never sure on the percentages, but I do think this phenomenon plays out quite dramatically in our local surf community.

Pathological liars aside, I personally never found that the so-called “lucky minority” – the ones that always seem to be catching fish – had any super human powers, nor did they have King Neptune on speed dial.

The “lucky minority,” in general, were simply willing and able to spend *much* more time on the water than your average Joe.

I know what some of you are thinking – “Sure, I agree that more time on the water means more fish, but I just can’t fish six or seven nights a week.”

Even if you could, this has the potential to end badly. How many of us know of a fishermen or two who were racking up some incredible numbers, in their day, but burned out and no longer fish at all?

It’s all about balance. The good news is that an outside interest or two might potentially enhance your surfcasting.

I’ve had several conversations with guys over how nymphing a trout stream is not so different from bucktailing a swift inlet. I have also seen how some were able to apply largemouth tactics to stripers.

But it goes beyond that.

Scuba diving comes to mind first. I’ve packed a tank or two on occasion and dumped into inlets like Manasquan, Shark River and Moriches, just for a look see. I’ve done my share of beach dives as well. Sometimes it was pivotal to see the structure, or to confirm the presence of bait fish (or even bass).

I’m technically the fly guy here, so I should mention a little about casting. Something tells me I am not the only one who waits by the door, as his wife takes (what feels like) hours to get ready to go out on a Saturday night. For these types of reasons I generally have a spare rod with an old line, always at the ready, for some practice casting. I must look like a sight, double-haul casting on the front lawn… sometimes with a beer. I get the wise-ass neighbors slowing down to ask me if I caught anything.

Next up is a sore spot for some fishermen, but worth mention – surfing. How often I found the structure that produced the best wave was also the place where the bass wanted to be. More than a few times, I’ve come down the face of a wave to see bass zig zagging – or even surfing themselves – as the wave broke. Other times while out surfing, I discovered cuts or bars, and at times even found feeding fish, when none of this was visible from the beach.

Time on the water need not be restricted to fishing. And there might be some complimentary interests worth looking into.

I bet I’ve only scratched the surface here.

13 comments on “What Else?

  1. Jeremy A

    Cool post! Im gonna keep a rod by the door now for sure, Ive wasted my share waiting for the wife… funny I know several guys who have fallen off their surf boards only to come eye to eye with a moby bass…..they found it a bit unsettling lol.

  2. Gary R. Soldati

    This reminds me of a story. I kept my very expensive Thomas & Thomas flyrod in the pantry so I could practice cast after work, before dinner. One night we had some friends over for dinner and the conversation got around to fishing. My wife (who is very understanding of my fishing)says, “Oh, that reminds me, I meant to tell you I was vacuum cleaning the pantry and there was some line in there and it got caught in the power nozzle and pulled the tip of a fishing rod, “I didn’t know one was in there!” and broke just a little bit of the tip off!” I must have turned white because everybody was looking at me. I jumped up looked in the pantry and sure enough 6″ of the tip was just hanging there. I never told my wife that the rod cost $700 and Thomas & Thomas never asked what happened to the tip, they just replaced it! Happy Ending!

  3. bdubbs

    I second that. Surfing and diving really help you understand the ocean and become a better fisherman. Feet planted on land you can only learn so much.

  4. harv

    Yea I guess I will keep my m16 by the garage door now while I’m waiting for joann to put on her spike heels & fishnet stockings.

  5. chuckg

    I’d like to see something about the hard drivers out there and the injuries that they sustain over the years. 25 years ago I used to fish 2-3 nights a week (my wonderful wife understands that we are only passing thru this life). however, after 4 rotator surgeries (2 falls on rock), knee surgery (twisting falls) and the inevitable back problems, I wonder if it was worth it… Just kidding, of course it was…

  6. TRisser

    Nice reminder that practice, observation, and networking make a huge difference between catching fish and just casting into the ocean. People who tend to catch more fish often fish with less intensity than the person striking out. IMO it is because they understand the environment the fish live in. They can often make one cast and hook up right beside the person who has been there all morning. I have been on both ends of that but I have made it a habit to sit and watch people like this. Not to copy their plug selection or bug them but to read their face as it relates to the surf action. Then after they have tired I try to catch them for a minute to both acknowledge their ability and to learn a thing or two. There is always something to learn and you often can’t learn if you don’t talk with people.

  7. birdshark

    A nice read. Thanks. The Hawaiians use the term “waterman” which is meant to describe someone who uses the ocean for many activities. Some days you fish, some days you surf, some days you swim, etc. The ocean is the focus and all else revolves around it. I know I’m happiest when I’m immersed in salt water doing something and I’m always learning something new when I’m out there.

  8. bunufish

    Part of the misconceptions, anxiety or stress I’ve observed with friends I introduce to surf casting tends to stem from the perception either mentally conjured up from media or past experience. Almost all of them initially enter into it with the expectation and question of, “are we gonna catch fish?” or with the self observation of, “Fishing is boring, and I don’t have the patience for it”. In both of these cases, at least 90% of those that I have taken surf casting in the back beaches of State Parks away from the usual beach going fields, end up with a reversal of mentality. They enjoyed the time on the beach, the challenge of learning how to cast a 9ft+ rod and the amount of activity required to surf cast with artificials; and even though we may not have landed a single fish, they ask for one last cast. In a few occasions we even caught fish, and that just makes the experience even better.

    But thanks to fisherman like you and Zeno, and many others I met fumbling along on the beach, it’s helped me optimize my time fishing. So that similar to the statement “10% of the fishermen catch 90% of the fish.”, out of the many holding a rod on the beach, you stand a good chance of being one of the 10% that actually lands something that day.

  9. Irish

    anything on the water is better than looking at this screen. Fly fish, Large mouth bass, surf cast,ocean , bay, stream, river , boat, Crappie fishing with my sons.Its all a gift and I take NONE of it for granted.

  10. Joe F

    Hey John , maybe you could write in your next post about what you experienced while diving in the inlets. I always wondered how marine life operated and looked like first hand under those rapid moving waters. Thanks

  11. Moses

    Hey John, great read! I’m glad to see more interesting articles to help keep the cabin fever at bay! Thanks for sharing..

  12. Allen W

    Wonderful read, now I’ll go and dust off my board! I’m one to tell my students to diversify their training and life experiences to enhance their work. John you just echoed my words back to me. Thanks a bunch and looking forward to your next posting!


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