By Captain David Lifka

Any time you have the time to go fishing is a good time to fishing. After all, it’s the experience, not whether or not you catch any fish. Right?

Probably not. Even though the experience can add greatly to the fishing trip, for most people, the goal of the trip is to actually catch a fish or two. Enhancing the effectiveness of any fishing trip begins with a few basic rules to consider before heading out.

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First, check the weather. Weather should be the first consideration when planning on being on or near the water. Wind speed and direction can have a huge impact on the success of your day. Strong winds can inhibit casting, affect anchoring and cause rough waters. Quickly developing summertime thunderstorms can produce gusty winds and frequent lightning creating hazardous fishing conditions.

Second, have an idea of what you are fishing for — even if you are fishing for anything that bites. Fish for what is most commonly fished for at the location you have chosen to fish. “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is a great rule of thumb when fishing new locations or targeting species you haven’t fished for before. Watch the locals or check with the bait stores to find out what bait, tackle and rigs are working best.

Knowing the tides when you are fishing tidal waters is a must in many instances. Certain bites happen on, in between and during various tidal stages. Gaining experience by fishing through entire tidal changes can help you learn the patterns of the fish you may be targeting at the particular location you are fishing.

Finally there is the bait. In most cases, baits that are natural to the body of water you are fishing will be the best baits to use. Catching live bait from the same waters you are about to fish is a big plus. Store bought bait should also come from local waters for best results. On certain occasions two fishermen can be fishing side by side using the same tackle and the same bait, but only one is catching fish. Often the only difference is that the “same bait” isn’t quite the same. One bait came from local waters and the other was foreign. The fish could tell the difference.

Fishing Report: The river is firing up. Reds are showing up near docks, bridge pilings and channel edges. Yellowmouth and croaker are improving at channel markers and holes 16 to 20 feet deep. Flounder are being caught in the Buckman and Orange Park areas of the river.

Whether you catch one, some or none, the family time spent fishing will last a lifetime.

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