Fishing: Such a chill activity, such a stress-inducing amount of information about how to do it better. There are thousands upon thousands of expert tips out there, subdivided by fish type, geographic location, skill level and superstition. Luckily, a few basic commandments apply to all situations and will get you far.
1. Pick the right time of day. You’ll get a better catch at sunrise and sunset, plus or minus two hours. Almost all species of fish feed the most then, especially during summer.
2. Check the barometric pressure. When barometric pressure is rising, get out on the water. High-pressure periods yield more active fish. Fish sense a change in pressure through their air bladder; low pressure makes them uncomfortable, causing them to seek equilibrium in deeper water. High pressure encourages them to feed comfortably near the surface.
3. Mind the moon. To throw it back to elementary-school science for a second: The moon cycles through four phases every month—new moon, first quarter, full, and third quarter. Native Americans first observed that the best phase for fishing is the new moon; science hasn’t found a conclusive reason why, but many expert anglers swear by it. Others endorse the full moon, including the ol’ Farmer’s Almanac, which explains that tides are higher during a full moon and encourage fish to feed. There is generally no love for the quarter-moons.
4. Respect your skill level. Just like a beginning skier will have a better run on a starter slope, if you’re a new fisherman, you’ll get a better catch in a smaller pond or lake. If you’re not ready, don’t be a hero. Yet.
5. Hide yourself—and your scents. Fish are extremely sensitive to everything around them, particularly when it comes to possible predation. If you want a bigger catch, get stealthy. Fish sense even small movements and will scatter when they hear loud noises or detect unusual scents. Hide your shadow. Forgo cologne, and make sure your hands are clean when baiting hooks. Being quiet is a zero-brainer: If you plan to do more than just chill out on the water, leave the Bluetooth speakers at home.
6. Keep a log. At the end of each trip, jot down the time of day, weather conditions, moon phase and barometric pressure. Don’t count on yourself to remember; take a few seconds to get scientific and it’ll make your next trip as productive as it is fun.