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Vol 43 | Num 7 | Jun 13, 2018

Ocean City Fishing Report Delaware Fishing Report Chum Lines Fish Stories The Galley Ship to Shore Issue Photos
Chum Lines

Article by Capt. Mark Sampson

Even if the type of fishing they normally do requires no casting at all, every angler can benefit by having good casting skills because anytime they're out on the water an opportunity might come along that only a good cast can take advantage of. Casting skills aren't difficult to learn, but they don't come naturally. Anglers learn how to cast either over time - while out on the water fishing or in the backyard while trying to hit a target on the lawn.
The old cliché, "I'd rather be lucky than good" doesn’t work here. Anglers who can accurately put a bait or lure on target will "always" catch more fish than those who just wing out a cast somewhere in the water and hope for the best. But accurate casting is only part of the equation that results in a caught fish. As good as someone might be at dropping a bait or lure on target every time, if they don't know "where" they should aim, it's all for naught! Before making a throw at a potential catch anglers must always take into consideration a number of variables that help determine the optimal place where the bait or lure should land.

Don't hit the fish on the head! Anglers should keep in mind that most saltwater fish are not used to having their meals fall from the sky. They are, however, used to being attacked by birds, so anything that comes from the air can be recognized as more of a threat than a meal and send them scurrying off for safer waters. If you know where a fish is holding, it's usually best to cast beyond the target and then crank the offering past it, or cast up current and let it drift to the fish. Notice I said "crank the offering "past it"" not "to it." Most predators are accustomed to having their meals race away - not towards them. So if a bait or lure is cranked directly to a fish it might spook them and even if it doesn't flee from the incoming meal, if the offering is deeper than the target catch, the line might contact the fish first and send it on it's way.

It's almost always best to cast beyond and to one side of a fish or a school of fish and then move the bait or lure past within a foot or two. When possible, it's also best for the presentation to be in front of, rather then behind the fish. If the water is not clear enough to see which way fish are pointed it's usually safe to assume that they have their heads pointed into the current.

The direction of the current should also be taken into consideration when deciding where to cast. A strong cross current will require that anglers lead into the flow of water so that when they make their retrieve the line will flow down into the strike-zone at the right time. The same applies if the fish are on the move. If you want to cast out in front of a bunch of moving fish then you're going to have to take their speed and direction into account and time your cast accordingly.

Casting to actively feeding fish is not usually as problematic. When a bunch of fish are chasing bait and darting around in many different directions, it can sometimes be as simple as casting into the mayhem and being prepared for a quick bite. But while a bad cast does not so easily spook feeding fish, anglers will still fare better if they toss to the edges of a frenzy rather than right in the middle of it. When bluefish or other toothy fish are chopping up bait, there can be scraps of fish drifting through the water that can hang up on an angler's line. If a feeding fish decides to eat that scrap it might easily bite through the line. In the same way, since fish often swim with their mouths partly open, it's not uncommon for anglers casting into schools to have a fish randomly swim into their line by accident and cut it. In either case, the angler will be left scratching his head wondering, "what happened?"

While you can never take the luck-factor out of fishing, good casting skills and the knowledge of exactly where and when to launch a bait or lure at a fish are the best tools anglers can have to bring more bites to the end of their lines.

Capt. Mark Sampson is an outdoor writer and captain of the charter boat, “Fish Finder”, docked at the Ocean City Fishing Center.

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