Fishing the Unknown - "The 4 T's"

A major inspiration for the big fish year is to challenge myself to pursue fish species that I would otherwise not. It took me several years to become a confident salmon and steelhead fisherman and yet I am still far from mastering this fishery. The variables are many and change year to year and day to day which is precisely why I enjoy it so much. However, I have hardly dabbled in the numerous other fisheries that exist in the Cascadia region.

I’ve always believed that a confident fisherman catches more fish. For a number of species I am targeting this next year I don’t have any, or at least recent, experience with. Additionally, given time and financial constraints I may only have a two day window to catch a species. For the most part confidence comes with experience on the water but there are also other ways to increase your confidence in connecting with a particular fish. Namely research.

For every minute I spend on the water I probably spend twice that doing research. First and foremost and for any species you need to determine the “4 T’s”:
Timing, Turf, Tackle, and Technique.

Timing can be broken down into two primary components diel and seasonal behavior. Diel behavior is the change in an organisms daily behavior. Some species of fish are crepuscular and active primarily at dusk and dawn whereas other are strictly diurnal or nocturnal. Knowing what time of day is best target a particular species is key and can save you time and frustration. Seasonality is another major factor in most temperate fisheries. Here in the PNW shifting water temperatures can turn off or turn on different species of fish. Additionally, with the presence of several anadromous and migratory species in the region knowing which season to target a fish species is important.

Turf can broadly be categorized into three distinct scales: macro, meso, and micro. The macro scale refers to the specific body of water. Not every body of water supports all fish and even though many lakes and rivers support a diversity of fish particular lakes and rivers tend to be more productive for a particular fish than others. The mesoscale refers to the relative location within a particular body of water. For instance in general some portions of Merwin Lake tend to be more productive for kokanee trolling than others. Lastly is the micro scale which refers to specific depths or benthic features that will hold fish. These are generally kept secret by most fisherman but a lot can be gleaned from charts and a fish finder.

Tackle and Technique are the final two components. You can be in the right place at the right time but if you do not have the right lure or technique then failure is likely. There are literally hundreds of articles in print and online that offer advice what to use catch a particular fish species. The main thing to remember is that there is typically more than one way to catch a fish and it is best to be prepared to use multiple techniques when pursuing new species.

Put the 4 T’s to good use and you will put more fish in the boat or on the bank.




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