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There is a lot that can be learned simply by observing one's fellow angler.

By Toby Lapinski
Tags: general

As I worked my way out onto the rocky point, a silhouette of a lone caster slowly came into view. He was perched right on the rock I would usually choose at this stage of the tide so I was more than a bit miffed at his presence. “Could I have beaten him to my rock had I arrived 15 minutes earlier,” I thought to myself.

I reluctantly set up to his left on a secondary spot with hopes that he might leave at the sign of my presence—I was wrong. For the next hour and a half we both cast into the fishless rip and I eventually conceded my spot, moving on to what I hoped would be greener pastures—once again, I was wrong.

There is nothing really all that special about the above story; I mean, I’ve had WAY more than my share of fishless nights over the years but I couldn’t help to not only learn a little and also to chuckle to myself as I observed my companion that night—I’ll get to that part shortly. You see, when I encounter a fellow angler in the surf at night, I study them. Assuming they are smart enough to keep their light usage to a minimum—which far too many of today’s anglers fail to adhere to—I try my best to determine what they are throwing, how they are fishing said lure or bait, where they are casting, how far they are casting and ultimately I take note of their silhouette to log in my memory for future reference. These are the kinds of notes that I compare when fishing with someone I know, so I find a way to do the same while fishing with a stranger. Doing so improves my success rate immensely and will most certainly assist you as well.

Ok, so I already happened to know who this guy was as I had seen his conspicuous truck back at the parking lot, but had I not known this fact he would have been labeled, “Guy with 100 fishing stickers on his car that overly exaggerates his body language and doesn’t know how to keep his @*#! light off the water.” Just like boat guys know each other by the name and type of boat they drive, we surfcasters label our fellow anglers by what we have to work with—vehicle, stance, over-use of a light, etc. I’m pretty sure this name is self-explanatory even if it’s not the shortest moniker.

Back to what I observed from “sticker/light/car” guy and how I use this information. Despite this being a rather bright night thanks to a big moon in the sky, I was unable to immediately determine what he was throwing. This could help as it might assist in knowing what not to throw if he was catching, so I usually try to determine this point right away. Before I make my first cast, I’ll listen to his casts as certain lures and baits have a distinctive sound when flying through the air. An eel sounds much different than a darter, for instance, and some lures like a Red Fin give off a certain sound when the hooks hit the plug body in the air as well as when the lure splashes down. When you make as many casts as I have over the years these are the things that you start to notice.

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