How to Approach New Water – Secrets to Catch More Fish

There is nothing I love more than visiting a new venue. It’s like unwrapping a gift, all the excitement, and anticipation… Before finally, catching is what makes fishing so special!

But you will want to make the most of that gift, and the best way to do it is to learn how to approach new water.

Today I’m going to share my secret with you. I’ll run through my standard ‘method’, which I use when exploring a new fishing venue.

Table of Contents

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Choosing a Water

To find fish-worthy water, you need to, well, find it. You can’t just cast into any old puddle and hope to catch.

Here are some great tips when deciding how to approach new water.

fisherman fishing from boat with spinning rod

Pick a Smaller Venue

Big fish in a small pond?


The truth is that you will probably catch more and get the option to hone your skills more if you start on smaller water. There is a greater chance that fish will actually be swimming by your bait, and you won’t have to move far to find them.

Join a Club

How do you know a water is even stocked? Well, if you join a club or fishing society water, then it is practically guaranteed! In fact, the best fishing days are often about a week after new fish have been introduced to the water.

What’s more…

You may actually get friendly with a few of the more experienced ‘locals’. They’ll be able to offer lots of tips and advice.

Ask Questions or Check out a Catch Report

Speaking of tips and advice, there is one key way to gain essential intelligence when knowing how to approach new water.

Ask questions.

Whether it is the lake attendant or fellow anglers, try and find out the things you really want to know. If I ever start at a new club, I always ask which areas hold fish and what is the best time to catch them.

They’ll also be able to tell you the best fishing line to use and what baits are most effective.

If you can’t find anyone to ask, don’t worry too much. I produce my own series of guides. Here you can see the best baits for catfish. Oh, and be sure to check out my article on the best carp baits too.

fisherman fishing from boat in lake

Be Well Prepared and Well Equipped

When you start fishing new water, you want to have plenty of options in your tackle box. By having options, you can try a few different styles, rigs, baits, and techniques out until you zero in on what is most effective.

It’s no good taking only surface rigs, only to find that the fish are down low.

Spend the night before you visit a venue getting yourself organized. A great tackle box will make it easy.

But Don’t Bring Too Much Gear!

When I said ‘come prepared,’ I meant it… But there are limits.

If you bring too much gear, you are resigning yourself to staying in one spot for the day. When learning how to approach new water, you need to be somewhat mobile. That way you can travel around and find the fish.

Find the Fish

Speaking of finding fish, ultimately, that’s what your reconnaissance is all about. Back in the day, it was just trial and error. Nowadays, there are lots of solutions when approaching new water.

Such as…

man catching fish in the evening with lure

Visiting Early

Early to bed, early to rise. Fish like heck then make up lies…

I’m kidding. The early bird catches the worm, and the early angler catches the fish.

Fish are most active during low light periods, particularly in the morning. Turn up early and just watch. It should be really apparent which areas are holding fish and where they are most likely to congregate.

If you enjoy fishing in low light, be sure to check out my article on night fishing.

Use a Fish Finder

Some consider this cheating. I think if the technology is there, why not use it?

There are plenty of great fish finders out there. Some are even castable! You can check them out here.

Consider a Boat

Boats let you access areas of the water that others can’t reach.

But Bob, aren’t boats expensive?


There are lots of different types of boats for fishing.

If you want a portable solution, why not look at a fishing kayak, or even a float tube?

fishing float tube with rod and other fishing equipment

Choose the Right Bait

Even if you have found a likely spot to catch fish, you will need to make sure that you offer them something that they want to eat.

Choosing the right bait is important

My advice would be to take a selection. This could include both live bait and artificial lures.


If your first attempt doesn’t work, and that is all you have, then you are out of luck! Of course, you can increase your chances straight off the bat by using other angler’s experiences to guide you.

Mark Your Spot… Accurately

You’ll know where the fish are and have selected a bait suitable to catch them with any luck. Part of knowing how to approach new water is finding those spots.


Being able to get back to them time and time again. It would be a travesty if you finally ‘cracked the code’ and had a great day’s fishing, only to find you can’t find the same spot next time.

Luckily there are answers:

Make Notes and Use an App

There are some great fishing apps out there. Some pair with fish finders, whereas others rely on angler’s inputs to mark good spots.

Any decent fishing app will allow you to make your own notes. They are like handheld electronic pocket fishing diaries. I’ve got a detailed guide on the best ones right here.

Use Your Reel

A reel can be used for more than just casting and retrieving.

It is a really effective distance marking tool.

How? Well, if you pick a good reel, you’ll find it has line clips. This is a way you can always ensure that you cast precisely the right distance. If you haven’t seen specialized rods and reels before, you’ll be amazed at what they can do. Swing by my article on the best carp fishing rods and reels to see exactly what I’m talking about.

fisherman fishing with spinning rod in pond

Be Patient

Listen. Part of the fun of fishing is the anticipation.

And you have to accept…

You simply aren’t going to catch every single time. If you go once, and things don’t work out, don’t worry. You might just need to be patient. If you’ve been a few times and are still having no luck, it is definitely time to reassess how you approach new water.


The rules as to how to approach new water are not set in stone. Consider them guidelines instead. Ask questions, turn up early and try a variety of locations and methods until you find out what works?.

How was your first experience at a new fishing venue? Good or bad? Let me know in the comments below.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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