It might not be the most highbrow activity. Some anglers in with bass boats might look down on it. But, there are many positive aspects to fishing from the shore. For starters, a shore angler never has to spend the day, far from the lake, staring at a flat tire on their boat trailer. The shore angler’s initial investment is much smaller and their schedule much looser. It doesn’t take long to fold up a lawn chair and leave if a big storm rolls in. If you’re one of those bold souls who practices the time-honored sport of shore fishing, here’s a list of tips and tricks that will make your outings even better.
1. Pack Light
One of the great things about shore fishing is that you can do it from about any spot on a lake or river. If you’re not overburdened with your gear, you can get off into some areas that the anglers and boats might not be able to reach. Or, take up residence in a location that the other shore fishers are too afraid to try out. There’s nothing better than going off the beaten path.
2. Set Up a Trapline
If it’s legal to use more than one pole in the area you’re fishing, don’t disregard the option of having a few different hooks in the water. Walk between them over the course of the day and check to see what’s biting. This works great for catfish or other bottom dwellers.
3. Go Sideways
Fishing from the shoreline often affords the opportunity to cast into overhangs on the other bank or across bends on the same shoreline. Cast horizontally to fling your bait into hidden holes and draw out a trophy that the other guys missed. A little practice and you’ll get the hang of it.
4. Remove Boundaries
Big bends in a river are hard to keep a boat in. Shallow flats are hard to access with anything but a jet boat. Yet, the shore angler suffers no such problems. As mentioned, fishing where others don’t dare often yields great results. Wade out if it’s safe and reaps the benefits of showing more initiative. This is the best practice, going after river trout or even steelhead occasionally.
5. Forget the Weather
Being out on a storm-tossed lake in a little boat is a harrowing experience. Standing on shore in the same storm isn’t nearly so bad. Rain or shine, fish need to eat. Put on a raincoat and try your luck when all the boaters have run home. Just watch out for the lightning and call it quits before it gets ridiculous.
6. Be Different
If you know all the other guys are using spinner baits and trolling out on the lake, don’t be afraid to go your own way. Variety is the spice of life for humans and fish alike. Go old school with a worm and bobber if everybody else is using rigs or flashy baits. Heck, consider mixing up the color scheme for optimum results.
7. Chase a Different Beast
There are a lot of fish species that can only be effectively chased from the shore. Largemouth bass, panfish, pike, and some species of trout can all be targeted from the shores. Even if you own a boat, there may be some opponents best sought from the bank. If you aren’t hooking your target, it could be because of seasonality, water levels, food sources, and even temperature. So, there is no shame in going for another target species.
8. Roam Free
Remember, if you’re fishing from shore, you’re not stuck in one body of water or paying boat ramp fees. If the action isn’t great in the east, hop in the car and go west. If one river doesn’t produce, drive over to the next. Fishing from the shore, you can easily determine if a switch up in location will benefit your fish counts.
9. Look For Structures
Walking around the lake or river can give anglers a better idea of what to fish for and what baits to use. Overhanging trees, weeds, dams, and bridges all present anglers with ideal locations to land fish. Fishing in areas with structures may deter some from trying, but as mentioned switching up your casting technique, like the horizontal cast, will bring in the bites. Just be careful of getting snagged.
A Final Thought
Whether they care to admit it or not, most anglers enjoy shore fishing. The average angler starts out shore fishing and stumbles back to it later in their career after learning how much fun boat ownership can be. Regardless of how you arrive at the shore, have a good time and remember that the worst day out fishing is preferable to a day at work.