Fishing: Building Patience and Persistence

We have all heard the old saying that “patience is key” when referring to a successful fishing adventure.  Although this saying is an old-time cliché and doesn’t exactly get the novice angler pumped up to go out on their next adventure, it is a true statement and one that should never be forgotten.

Bill Sager Jr. is no longer with us, but his spirit and positive attitude lives within us every single day. This photo was taken on an Oneida Lake ice fishing trip in the winter of 2014. We didn’t catch a single fish that day, but we managed to prank Bill with a Busch beer on the end of his line. I remember this day more than many of the days that we brought home buckets of fish. Bill will remain forever in our hearts.

Patience, in our eyes, does not necessarily mean that we need to sit in one spot for a day’s duration and hope that the fish will sniff like a bloodhound and eventually make their way to our bait; it means that we need to be willing to put in the hours and adhere to a positive mindset.  Fishing isn’t always about the fish you catch, it’s more about the memories you make and the things you learn along the way.  All too often, fishermen give up way too early, they get bored, and don’t even give themselves a chance.  Here are a few subtle suggestions to consider before packing up when the fish aren’t cooperating exactly as you planned.

You have to be willing to stay out there.

I think we all know there are many factors that contribute to success on the water, but by staying out in the elements for several hours, you are tackling one of the primary factors for catching fish: The time of day.  Although this can be different each day and for each species, by staying out there for several hours you are giving yourself a better chance to have your bait in the water when the fish “turn on”.  When I say “turn on” I do not mean that the fish suddenly get hungry (although that is true at times), but more significantly, the time of day often dictates when the fish will be in a certain area on the body of water you are fishing.  So, get your head up high, be ambitious, and surround yourself with people you enjoy spending time with and you will be more likely to hit it right when that hungry school is lurking beneath your outboard.

The Postletown W&W crew probably spends more time staring at our inexpensive, but sufficient Lowrance Elite 4x DSI than we do our living room televisions.  Because of this, we know that fish will appear on that screen out of nowhere when the sun reaches a certain angle.  For example,  Tom Postle and I were fishing for bass in the middle of summer on Bear Lake in the Town of Stockton, NY a couple of summers ago.  We were casting Shad Raps and Senko Worms over a sunken gravel point where the depth changed from 4′ to 17′.  We weren’t marking much on our sonar for a while until the sun started to drop below the surrounding wood-line.  Our Lowrance started picking up some suspended crappie on this drop off.  We then switched baits and had some fun!  We never did much crappie fishing in the middle of summer because they were always very hard for us to find after the spawning season, but after being out on the water for several hours that day, we learned something new.  I am not saying that the evening is the best time of day to catch fish, but for crappie, on that lake, in the middle of summer; we now know where the crappie will be when the sun sits on top of the oaks.

This is just one of many experiences where staying out on the water taught us something new about where the fish will be at a certain time of day.  If the fish aren’t there, don’t fire the motor up and head to the docks; instead, be patient and try different areas.  Also, don’t be afraid to go back to some of the same areas that you tried earlier in the day, it can really pay off.

Stick with a positive attitude.

Along with patience, another cliché that Postletown W&W also lives by is “We just love being out there and catching a fish is just a bonus.”  OK, I lied, we LOVE to catch fish; however, fishing is a great excuse to spend some quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors.  There’s a special type of bond that is created when you set some goals and work together to put fish in the boat.

My brother Tom and I have known Rick Serra for many years. We all worked at a local pizza joint together in our high school days. Rick said that he hasn't walleye fished since he used to go with his grandpa when he was young. I think he had a blast pulling in some nice 'eyes.
My brother Tom and I have known Rick Serra for many years. We all worked at a local pizza joint together in our high school days. Rick said that he hasn’t walleye fished since he used to go with his grandpa when he was young. I think he had a blast pulling in some nice ‘eyes.

If you focus more on the little things that are happening on a glass covered lake or while your waders are three feet deep in an ice-cold stream surrounded by cliffs and shale, then you will be able to exercise your patience for a longer period of time which will increase your chances for pulling in the big one.

Determination, confidence, and persistence are also major factors in completing a successful mission on the water.  You have to be determined to do what it takes, confident that what you are doing is the correct approach, and persistent with your efforts.  This paid great dividends for us this past weekend while trolling Dipsy Divers for walleye on Lake Erie out of Dunkirk, NY.  After hearing reports of a slow morning on the lake, we finally got set up at about 11am.  After two uneventful hours, we finally landed our first walleye.  We could have easily decided to save our gas and pack it up for another day, but it was a gorgeous day in Western New York and we were taking advantage of the blazing August sunshine.  We stuck with the same worm harnesses that we started with and believed in the idea that we would eventually troll over some aggressive ‘eyes that would take delight in our presentation.  We dragged just four lines, until 7pm and brought home ten golden walleye while losing a few fish at the back of the boat.  This is not the most impressive cooler of fish, but it was better than the big goose egg we had in the first two hours.  We never threw in the towel and we kept a positive attitude which resulted in many tasty fillets for the dinner table.

Risk Serra, Chris Postle, and Tom Postle III with ten walleye caught off of Dunkirk, NY in 100-107 feet of water. We stuck with our program and ended up with some quality fish.
Rick Serra, Chris Postle, and Tom Postle III with ten walleye caught off of Dunkirk, NY in 100-107 feet of water. We stuck with our program and ended up with some quality fish.

If at first you don’t succeed…

After countless hours of fishing experience, we feel like we are only reaching the tip of the iceberg when it comes to figuring out how to catch fish.  We have learned that if you do not have success on a fishing outing, it doesn’t mean that you create excuses and just assume that the fishing is “bad” on that body of water.  Many anglers will try their luck on a lake, get skunked, and never return to try again.  The Postletown W&W crew enjoys the challenge of fishing.  If we get skunked, it just means that we have to try harder.  You can’t expect every body of water to be the same.  You have to take the time to do the research and experiment with trial and error to be rewarded.  If you have an unsuccessful trip, take note of what didn’t work that day and be willing to try again with a different approach.  Believe us; It is a very rewarding feeling to catch a fish when you know you’ve worked hard for it.

An eye-catching sunset offshore on Lake Erie; One of the reasons we love to be out there.
An eye-catching sunset on Lake Erie; This is one of the reasons why we love to be out there!


As we discussed earlier, patience is more than waiting.  It is about making the most of your outings and appreciating the little things.  To be successful, you need to trust your own knowledge and experience.  But the bigger priority should be enjoying the experience and sharing it with others.  If you can bring yourself to that point, then every fishing trip will be successful whether you put fish in the boat or not.  Patience is not something that you can purchase at Cabela’s and buy more when it runs out.  It is something that grows over time.   I will be the first to admit that when I was young I was the first one in the car if I didn’t catch a fish in the first ten minutes, but with great mentors, they taught me the most important life skill there is and it has helped me not only on my fishing adventures, but in every aspect of my life.

Written by Chris Postle of Postletown Woods and Water.

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