As a frequent shore angler, I sometimes catch myself looking longingly at a passing boat angler. However once on a boat, the shore is the place to be. A classic “grass is always greener” sort of thing.
And I’m not the only one.
Even though professional anglers compete on large, deep lakes all over the country and are required to remain on a boat, one frequent tournament strategy is to seek the prime fishing locations that are near shore.
Shallow water is the most productive portion of a lake because it allows the greatest amount of light penetration to the bottom. Light and substrate nutrients will lead to aquatic vegetation and thus a great quantity of prey items for larger fish. Anglers (and fish) also seek the visible fish-holding structure such as rocks, fallen trees, stumps, and points that are located near shore.
Even without fish-locating electronics often found on a boat, my senses are keener when fishing from the shore. It is easy to get distracted with boat operation and overlook the ability of fish to see, hear, and feel our presence.
On small bodies of water, I’ve noticed that a boat can spook fish. You are pretty exposed out there on a boat. Fishing from shore gives you the option of keeping a low profile. For example, the fish in one of my “testing facilities” (pond) are somewhat “trained.” If I don’t deploy some shoreline stealth, there are certain fish which will follow me around the pond. My presence undoubtedly alarms others.
Fishing from shore also is quiet. A pair of pliers accidently dropped on mud only makes a soft “plop.” Not so, in an aluminum boat. An observant shore angler can “read” water and readily translate this information. Without a boat ripple, it is easier to recognize any movement that might give away fish location and type of feeding behavior.
Finally, fishing from shore permits greater feeling. Watch Bassmaster Elite Pro Jeff Kriet work a soft-plastic lure across the bottom and you’ll notice he almost always has a finger on his line and that he holds his rod like a Boy Scout carrying in the American flag, rod tip pointed straight at the sky. This is how he tries to compensate for the various boat undulations to feel the slightest bump. However, a bobbing, drifting boat is no match for feet on firm ground.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Oklahoma. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.