Target a Striper: The Confidence Factor - The Fisherman

Target a Striper: The Confidence Factor

Familiarity with the area you are fishing can be a confidence builder.
Familiarity with the area you are fishing can be a confidence builder.

Whether you fish from a boat or the surf, having confidence in your fishing ability plays a critical role in the striper game.

Have you ever gone to a job interview or asked someone out on a date? Chances are everyone reading this has experienced a few scenarios like the ones just mentioned. Also, chances are we’ve been successful at least once or twice with what we pursue in life. If one were to pick apart the “how” and “why” we come out on top of life’s obstacles, I’d be willing to make a bet that confidence had everything to do with it.

Fishing is no different in that having confidence within yourself no matter what the situation  dictates is just as important as the “how” and “why” we fish. This is especially true when we put the focus on stripers. I’ve always been a firm believer in trusting your own methods and tactics because half of what we do in fishing is mental to some degree. Every day or night we spend on the water can always bring something new, therefore believing in your potential no matter what the conditions are will ultimately help you catch more fish. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a quick look at why our confidence is so important.

Lure Selection

To keep our conversation simple, I’ll focus on lure selection being that it’s how I fish one hundred percent of the time when I’m after stripers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a boat or fishing from the surf, I think we can all agree that lure selection matters just a little bit to some degree right? Sure wind, tide, and bait give us very important clues as to what lures we may want to fish, but what good are any of those variables if we are not confident they will work?

I do a lot of striper fishing from both boat and surf and I can tell you without question I have a few “go to” lures I’ll find myself reaching for almost every time I’m fishing. Yes it’s true that I do like to carry a variety of lures with me when I fish to match any scenario I might encounter, but it’s also true that I instinctively reach for the same lures before anything else each and every time I’m striper fishing. Reasoning for this could be because I’ve been successful catching fish on a certain lure, but I think the bigger picture has to do with my confidence fishing it. I stand by my word that I would not be successful with anything I threw without knowing and believing it would work. Take for example a scenario I witnessed this past spring while probing a few of my back bay spots.

This one morning in particular I had found some bass cruising a flat deep within a south shore back bay. Small bait was present and the tide had just started. After getting a bite going on plastics, I thought about trying a popper in my bag I had never really done well with. The bait present in this spot and given the time of year generally did not make for an ideal popper scenario, but I made the switch anyways going against the doubt I had initially. To make a long story short, the rest of the morning was enjoyable with constant action on a popper I was never very successful with, but for some reason I had faith it would work that day. Not only did I continue to hook bass just as good if not better than the plastics, I hooked my largest fish of the morning on that popper.

The point here is that sure maybe the stars aligned and that one lure that sat in my bag for years finally had its lucky day, or just maybe my success came from within. I tend to go with my confidence theory over dumb luck. Oh yea and on a side note, that popper has since gotten a lot more use after that morning with success might I add.

Color Scheme

Now we can’t sit here and talk about lure selection without the mention of colors. Do I believe that colors matter given the situation you’re fishing? Absolutely (just ask anyone who’s ever fished a strong sand eel or mullet run) but I also don’t think lure colors matter as much as people make it out to be. There are general guidelines I believe should be followed but I don’t think they are the end all be all. For our purposes however I’ll mention these guidelines in brief.

To start, it’s never a bad idea to fish bright colors on bright days/nights and darker colors on dark days/nights. To most who live along the striper coast that has been the general rule and has been a very successful motto to follow. What gets lost in the translation however is lure selection and being confident it will work. Why does this matter? If I’m not confident a lure will work, what good is deciding on its color?

There have been plenty of instances where I’ve been on a hot bite using a particular lure only to find that color made very little difference in terms of my hookup ratio. What I found to be more important was the way in which I fished that said lure rather than its hue. Matching a correct size to the bait present, and being able to fish that lure properly has done me a lot more good than being sucked into the debate of “it’s just the hot color.” Am I saying that color never matters and that you shouldn’t mind it at all? Absolutely not because stripers, like any other fish, can get very selective at times and during those instances, yes color may make a big difference. What I am suggesting however is to be more confident in what you are throwing and why you are throwing it as opposed to what it looks like.

If you still aren’t convinced I urge you to try it for yourself. The next time you find yourself on a really good bite, try making a drastic color change in the heat of things all the while keeping the size and profile of your lure the same. I’ll bet money that in most cases you’ll still hookup with ease granted the only thing switched was the color.

Spot Lock

Trusting your own methods and tactics is a common trait among the most successful striped bass anglers.
Trusting your own methods and tactics is a common trait among the most successful striped bass anglers.

Being confident in what and how you fish is important, but what about the areas you fish? Choosing when and where we fish are sometimes a very crucial factor in our success when we head out and it’s up to us to figure out why. If we believe this to be true, then being confident in fishing the spots you choose becomes very important. What makes this so important is getting yourself to believe that the fish are there even when things don’t always start off as planned. It’s a really simple concept, why would we keep fishing a particular spot if we didn’t truly believe we’d catch anything right?

With that being said, sometimes fishing a spot isn’t always as simple as fish either being there or not. This can be especially true with stripers. I have spots that I will only fish during certain tide stages, and to be more specific, sometimes only within a certain window of that favorable tide. Why is this important? Well for one, having the confidence to know that a spot will “turn on” even though I’ve arrived at it and have caught nothing for some time makes a world of a difference.

Having that confidence to maintain a never give up attitude more often than not leads to success. It’s also important to note here that being a good observer of your surroundings will help build that confidence. Watch the wind direction, tide, and bait present to tell you what to do on any given outing as they can be great clues in getting onto some successful fishing. The point is to take notice of any small details should they arise. I’m also an advocate of logging your experiences each and every time you fish. Keeping a detailed log on all of these factors will not only help dial you in on your go to spots, but also effectively serve as a guide in cracking the code on new ones.

As I stated before, a large part of fishing is a mental puzzle. It’s up to us to put the pieces together correctly and having the right mindset is the first step in that process. Keep this information handy when things don’t go according to plan and stick with it. Sometimes our success will not come right away, but rather unfold slowly after some hard earned time is put into our fishing. Having the confidence to get you there isn’t always easy, but it’s very important in our learning process. Also, a little bit of luck every now and then never hurt anyone either.   

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