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How to Find Your Fishing "Spot"

school of snapperFishing offshore is all about the numbers –  GPS numbers, that is.  We use these latitude and longitude numbers to mark a spot when fishing for structure-oriented fish like grouper, snapper, and amberjacks. But how do we find these magic “spots?” And how can you make sure that the next time you come back to the “spot,” it will be as productive?
Inshore fishing is really like a jigsaw puzzle. There are many parts that make up the whole puzzle and the “spot” or “numbers” for that location are just a small part of finding areas that are productive. More importantly, there are lots of factors that make a spot productive as it relates to a certain time of the tide. Because we may have a tide swing of up to three feet, there are times when fish will hold on a certain area because of the tide level, but will move as that level shifts. So, when you fish an area and have success at a certain spot, don’t think of the spot as the all important factor as an offshore angler might, consider a dozen or more factors that make that spot productive.
The inshore fishing puzzle, is made up of many parts, and the following are some factors that can affect the productivity of a spot: Forage availability, wind direction and velocity, water clarity or turbidity, water color, cloud cover or available sunlight, water temperature, bottom make-up, i.e. sand, shell, rock, grass, gravel, etc., bottom color, barometric pressure, tide phase and level, water movement, salinity, oxygen content, and several others make up the inshore fishing puzzle. So, the next time you’re fishing and are successful at a certain spot, keep these factors in mind and make sure to note the time each fish is caught.
One way to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together is to make a log book noting as many of these factors to figure out what makes a spot productive. I use the NOAA Tides Online website to help note some of these factors. This site will give you several important pieces of the puzzle that are important to catching fish inshore.
The more pieces of the puzzle you put together, the easier the remainder of the pieces will be to complete it, and you will begin to understand why and when fish are where they are.