By Jeff Samsel

No matter what species you fish for and the kinds of waters you fish, paying attention to details can help you better assess the situation and figure out the mood of the fish. Be intentionally observant and make adjustments based on what you see, and you’ll catch more fish.

Here are 10 things to pay attention to while you are fishing ....

1. Water Behind your Lure – If fish are occasionally following your lure back but not striking, you probably are quite close with what you are doing. Alter your retrieve just a bit or try a different size or color of the same lure.

2. Water Behind Fish – Any time you reel in a fish and see followers, you are in a good area, and the fish are competing for food. Make more casts to the same spot and use aggressive presentations.

3. Water Color – Water color could be the subject of a how-to fishing book because it affects how fish feed, relate to cover and much more and therefore is behind many decisions. As you fish, though, watch especially for water color changes or for color lines, like where a wave-swept bank creates a band of dirty water that the fish might use as cover.

4. Water Temperature – Much like water color this is a huge subject. If you’re in a boat and have a temperature probe on your electronics, be especially aware of temperatures changing through the day or differences in specific areas. These can have a major impact on the behavior of the fish, especially in the heat of the summer or during the coldest part of winter.

5. Weather – Again, take extra careful note of shifts in weather conditions and how those affect activity and think about adjustments you might need to make. Also note the direction of the wind and how that might affect the positioning of the fish.

6. Visible Forage – This might seem too obvious, but it’s too often overlooked. If you can see baitfish, insects, frogs or other likely forage, take note of their size, shape color and behavior.

7. Birds – Forage related, if you see gulls, herons, kingfishers or other birds that eat baitfish, take note, especially if the gulls are circling and diving or the predatory birds are in full fishing mode.

8. How Fish are Hooked – If every fish you catch has taken the lure deep, they like exactly what you are doing it how you are doing it. Don’t change anything. If you’re missing fish and the few you catch are barely hooked, try slowing the presentation or making other subtle changes.

9. Bite Situation – Any time a fish bites, note as many details as possible. How was the lure moving? Was there something distinctive about the shore or bottom make-up? If trolling, had you just turned the boat? What’s different about the spot than others you have fished? The list could go on and on.

10. Your Buddy – Finally, don’t let pride get in the way. If whoever you are fishing with is catching them and you aren’t, be willing to change lures or colors or maybe the size of your weight. If your gear is totally the same, watch to see if there are little presentation details that might be making a difference. If all else fails, ask questions.