What an angler does in preparation for their fishing trip is just as important as what's done on the water. What is the forecast? What are the tides? Is my tackle ready? Trolling motor charged? Lures? Bait? Clothes/rain gear? These are all crucial things I check before taking my clients on the water.
The weather can change by the hour in Florida. Rain, cold, wind, and even fog are all things to consider before leaving the dock. Fog has been a issue in recent weeks, and it can cause havoc on navigating our tricky shallow waters. Make sure your NAV lights are working and pay attention to you GPS. A good chart plotter makes it safer and easier to get from point A to B. Your GPS is a must in conditions where visibility is compromised.
The tides will often determine when the best bite will be and it's smart to plan your trips around them. Some fish prefer an incoming an some will only target the outgoing. I find that the areas I fish are the most productive on higher moving tide because fish usually are on the move and the higher water gives me more area to fish.
Having a good selection of lures and bait to offer is a must. Fish want different things on different days, so find out what they want. If the artificial's are not getting bit, then I will switch to shrimp on a cork or slowly bounced across the bottom. If you can, bring enough rods rigged with these lures and baits. This way you can just grab another rod rather than taking the time to re-tie!
What you do to prepare for your day on the water can help when problems arise. Something as simple as a extra fuel/water seperator, an extra fuel primer ball, or even a few zip ties could save your day, and could make the difference on putting fish in the cooler.
Good luck out there and tight lines!
Capt. Keith Tomlinson runs Bulldog Fishin Charters out of Hernando Beach. Reach him at www.bulldogfishin.com or (352)238-3581.