Catching big fish on a consistent basis requires more than plain luck. The angler must know the migration patterns, food sources and best time of year and day to target the big fish. Every fish species has different characteristics, but with a few basic strategies you can separate the small fish from the big fish.
The season and the time of day have an effect on the actions of big fish. Target your species during the spawning season when legal. Big fish must consume extra calories before and after the spawn, and the fish become reckless as the spawn approaches. Salmon are the exception, as they die after the spawn, but salmon can be easily located when running up rivers to the spawning grounds. Other species will also focus on the eggs of spawning fish and will sit behind the spawning beds. Alaskan rainbow trout are a prime example--they gorge on the eggs of spawning salmon and grow large.
Also consider the time of day when you are looking for big fish. Dawn and dusk are the best times for targeting trophies. Low light conditions are the prime hunting hours for predatory fish, and anglers should start fishing early in the day or finish late.
Big fish have survived because they have found a rich food source and managed to avoid predators. Fishermen must use a quiet, stealthy approach to prevent looking like a predator and spooking the fish. Do not cast a shadow over the water, and stalk the water as quietly as possible. Turn off boat engines when making your approach, and consider exiting the boat and walking the banks. Most fish have lateral lines that sense pressure changes in the water, and aggressive wading can send an alarm signal to the fish. Make longer casts to maintain a distance between you and the fish and wade softly.
Know the food sources of the fish and use lifelike imitations. The majority of big fish are predatory and will eat other fish to satisfy the extreme need for calories. Use large streamers and lures that imitate shad, sculpins, dace and the bait-fish in the local waters. Retrieve the flies and lures in a manner that makes them look wounded. The easy meal will attract the large fish that need to conserve energy while consuming calories.
The exception to these predatory tendencies is found in some trout fisheries. Trout will become predatory and feed on mice, birds and bait-fish, but in many areas trout become large by eating mass quantities of small insects. Know the insect hatches and focus on imitating the insects in the prime lies, where big fish will be lurking.
Article Written By Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Colorado-mountain-adventure.com. Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.