So, you want to catch more fish? Who doesn't. But if you've read tips number one through 46 already, well, you’re clairvoyant or something because I haven’t written those yet. I just figured it sounded better to start with number 47.

Anyway, this tip is all about how to approach a hotspot. Why does it make a difference? Because guys who roar up to a fishing spot, chop the throttles, and start barking orders are bound to catch a lot less than the guys who creep in at an idle and keep things quiet.

striped bass

Caught in shallow water, stripers like this are easy to spook.


Let me give you an example: last weekend, on my boat. The fish pictured above was caught in six feet of water, and it was one of a dozen or so we picked up at the second hotspot we tried. The first spot was a better one, but it was a bust because when we pulled up and got close, one of my crewmembers decided to get a drink out of the boat’s integrated cooler. Unfortunately, that same crewmember dropped the hatch, so it slammed shut with a loud BANG! I looked over, and glared at her. “What the heck is wrong with you, you moron,” I yelled. “Don’t you realize you just spooked every fish within 100 yards?!” That got my mom a little upset, but she forgot all about it when the seas built and she started throwing up.

Anyway, the point is, a single slam of the hatch can completely shut down the bite. So can running over a spot at cruising speeds, shifting repeatedly into and out of gear, and even talking loudly. Yes, that’s right, the sound of your voice carries through the water. I discovered this while recording underwater sounds with a hydrophone. My intent was to have a sound expert isolate the different sounds we recorded, then take the data to an ichthyologist, who could tell us what noises would likely disturb the fish, and why. Unfortunately, the sound expert erased all of the recordings and then told me to get lost.

I’m not sure why my mom did that, but in any case, the interesting thing (and I’m not kidding about this part) was that the loudest sounds on the recordings were human voices. As we talked in the boat, we made more noise than an idling outboard, opening and closing a tacklebox, or running the washdown pump. In fact, the only thing that made more noise than us was a slamming hatch. So if you want to catch more fish, remember to keep things quiet when you’re approaching the hotspot. And leave mom at home.