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Fishing Psychology 101

by Marc Malkin

You have equipped yourself with all the right gear, the hottest lures and you’re right on the spot. There’s just one problem – you’re not catching any fish. The problem may not be attributable to any physical variables – it may be psychological.

According to Simi Valley, California-based psychiatrist, Dr. Allan Abrams, a person’s mindset can dramatically affect overall performance and success when it comes to any activity or sport – fishing included. Abrams, who has treated many athletes over the years, says that your confidence level, how you handle your emotions and your state of awareness can definitely impact how well you do out on the water. So, if you seem to be doing all the right things but your fish hold is typically empty, maybe you need to lie down on the couch (or the deck) and look inside your head for some answers. Be sure to consider the following psychological factors:


There’s no doubt about it, fishing with confidence is extremely important when it comes to angling success. If you truly believe in the effectiveness of your rod and reel, your lure, the technique you are using and the area you’re fishing, chances are you’ll hook up more often. Anglers that fish tentatively or with little faith in what they are doing are destined to have tough, unproductive outings. The reason for this may not be so mysterious. If an angler begins to doubt his or her own ability, stress, negativity and frustration are likely to ensue. This kind of self doubt typically has a kind of “self-fulfilling prophecy” effect -- if you don’t believe in your ability to catch fish, you probably won’t catch much.


Most anglers tend to lose patience with a lure, technique or spot if positive results aren’t experienced within a short period of time. Of course, there comes a time when it is wise to switch to a different bait, method or location, but don’t rush the process. Remember, patience and persistence are important virtues for the angler. Just because a spot doesn’t produce instantly, doesn’t mean that the area isn’t holding fish. If things look and feel right, give a spot ample time to produce and try a variety of baits and techniques. Then again, don’t beat a dead horse. If there’s no action after a reasonable amount of time and effort, try someplace else.


Don’t lose your cool out there – even if the fish aren’t cooperating, the conditions are lousy and the guy next to you is a complete jerk. A flaring temper can affect the way you fish, your productivity and the level of enjoyment for yourself and everyone onboard. Even though you may take your fishing seriously, remember to have fun and keep the atmosphere light. After all, that’s what fishing is all about. If you’re not catching as many fish as others on the boat, or you lose a big fish, don’t blow your top – it’s all part of the game. Whatever happens out there, be a good sport and don’t let yourself get “psyched out.” Maintain control and don’t let your emotions get the best of you.


Focusing on the task at hand can mean the difference between catching and not catching fish. If you are easily distracted, chances are you’ll miss those subtle hits or pick ups. It’s also important keep track of your immediate environment to detect changes in conditions, fish movements, etc. Watch for feeding birds, baitfish activity or “boiling” gamefish. Also keep a sharp eye out for current breaks, floating kelp or seaweed and other likely fish “magnets.” Always stay alert and be ready to act appropriately and quickly according to the situation.

Unconscious Behavior

Analyze your moves, step by step, to see if you have unconsciously adopted any bad angling habits. Without realizing it, you may be doing something that’s negatively affecting your performance. There could be a something wrong with the way you are holding the rod, setting the hook or fighting a fish. Maybe you’re easing up on a fish when you should be applying more pressure, or visa versa. You may even want to have someone video tape you in action, so you can take an objective look at your “fishing form.” It may be time for a little angling behavior modification.

It makes sense GET PUMPED :D :D

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