Understanding what drives fish is the key to finding them in whatever body of water you may be fishing.
Fish have five basics needs. Locate places that meet these needs and you will soon be on to fish:
1. Sufficient Oxygen
Fish need oxygen just like you and me. If the water does not have sufficient oxygen, fish will not be able to live in it. Look for places that have features from the first list, and stay away from those on the second list.
Things that increase oxygen:
- turbulence (riffles, etc.)
- brightly colored vegetation
- decaying vegetation
2. The Right Temperature
Fish rely on the environment to regulate their temperature. If it’s not right, they move deeper or shallower to get closer to their preferred temperature range.
Many fish can survive outside of their ideal temperature ranges, but they become “inactive.” That means that even if your presentation is perfect, they won’t bite. It pays to know the preferred temperature range of your target fish.
Preferred Ranges for Common Game Fish
3. Protection From Predators
Fish have lots of predators: birds, raccoons, other fish, and you. They prefer to hang out in areas that give them some protection. Look for them in these areas:
Lakes & Ponds:
- lily pads
- submerged rocks, boulders, trees, roots and brush
- deep water
- Under ledges
- fallen trees
- rocks in the current
- deep pool
- undercut banks
Fish, like people, like to be comfortable. Fighting strong currents wastes a lot of energy. Fish will spend most their time resting in moderate currents and in the edges that form between them and faster currents.
Fish have to eat. They go where the food goes. In lakes and ponds, look for the bait fish or other prey. If the bait fish are there, then game fish are not far behind.
In streams, the thing to look for is “feeding lanes,” narrow faster currents that carry insects and other food downstream.
Wherever these feeding lanes pass by undercut banks, rocks or protruding ledges, you will likely find fish.