New Fishing Spot! Now What?

Today’s post comes to us from Josh Schwartz, a member of Sportsman Channel’s digital team.  Josh is an avid sportsman who spends a great deal of his free time fishing. Below is advice about new fishing spots. 

Fishing A New Spot

As American sportsmen, we are blessed with the freedom to explore. One of my favorite things about fishing is the adventurous feeling of trying a new spot. Fishing new spots can be challenging and you may feel lost at what lure or live bait rig to try. Here’s some advice to give you confidence when fishing a new area.

Fishing A New Spot

Enjoyed my time fishing at Trout Lake in northern Wisconsin. One of those days where it just felt good taking casts in a new area as I didn’t catch any fish. You may not always catch fish when trying out a new spot, just remember it’s called fishing not catching.


Shore Fishing
Shore fishing a new spot may be easier than trying to fish a new spot by boat.

  • I’ve found it easier to have a conversation with a person from shore than from boat. Talking with folks fishing near you is a great way to learn about your new fishing spot.
  • While shore fishing, you will be fishing a smaller area, making the new fishing spot less overwhelming. It’s easy to pick out a place and walk to it.

Ask Questions (listen)
When you get to your new fishing spot, talk to people fishing around you. This is the best way to get the most relevant ideas for your current location. Ask about bait, time of day and what types of fish are being caught. Get as much information as possible.

Asking questions can lead to a new technique that may also work at your regular fishing holes.

Look for a bait shop nearby to gather information. If your new spot is at a state campground, some have a DNR Warden on site you can talk to for fishing information. Getting advice from people around you is effective since you come across local knowledge you can use immediately.

shore fishing _ lake winnebago

I was fishing Lake Winnebago for the first time from shore. After I caught my first bass in calm water, looked for other calm areas and had more hookups.

There may not always be people around to talk with, so observing is critical. The following observations are simple, yet are easy to miss.

Watch how people are fishing. Pay attention to their retrieve and look to see what lure they are using. Often times observing can spark curiosity that will initiate conversation.

Look for man-made structures you know to hold fish, piers, docks and boat landings.

Look at the water clarity(more on water clarity later), the types of vegetation and whether the bottom is gravel, sand or muck. Seeing light to dark colored water usually means you’ve located a transition from shallow to deep water.

Look for points, current and cover, such as overhanging trees. Also look at what parts of the shoreline are sunny or shady. If it’s windy try fishing into the wind; if that doesn’t produce, look for a bay or where the water is calmer.

While shore fishing Lake Winnebago in Wisconsin for the first time recently, it was windy. I started by casting into the wind with a lure I had confidence in. When nothing was happening I chose to fish out of the wind and caught my first bass. Based on this, I fished similar areas with calmer water and less wind and continued catching bass.

winnebago bass

One of many largemouth caught on a Kalin’s grub while fishing Lake Winnebago for the first time.

Remember Your “Confidence Baits” 
If your new fishing spot has clear water, tie on a lure you’ve had success with in clear water before. Likewise, lures that have worked in similar water conditions before, can be successful in new your fishing spot when trying to figure out what to use.

Remembering what lures you’ve got fish on in the past will give you confidence and direction as what to tie on at a new fishing spot. If your confidence baits don’t work out, remember you can experiment with other baits.

My confidence bait is a jig-head and a Kalin’s grub. It’s been successful catching both largemouth and smallmouth bass, as well as pike, in rivers and a variety of lakes with different water clarity.

Do Research
Lake-link and the variety of fishing apps available are the norm, though, remember they’re not the only fishing resources. Check the DNR website for your state to also catch information beforehand.

For me, I check out Wisconsin’s DNR site by visiting the Find a lake page.  From here I can search the lake I’m planning to fish and can find a “DNR Contacts” link for that lake. After clicking this link, a list of contacts appears. In the list, a name and number to call for “Fishing. Fish Management, Public Access,” is what I use to gain information about the lake and can talk to an actual person to get immediate feedback.

Another option is to find the DNR service center near you, stop by in person and ask for info on the lake you wish to try out, also ask if any more resources are available to you online about where you want to fish. They may have resources that will supplement what you have found online about the fishing spot you want to try for the first time.

Focus On The Adventure
There are times I’ve fished a new area with no success and then there’s times I’ve fished a new spot with much success. Either way, try not to focus on what you catch but rather on being in the great outdoors and the freedom we’re blessed with to fish a new area.

lake winnebago_sunset

Photo taken from Lake Winnebago, WI at High Cliff State Park.


These tips may seem basic, but simple things can be easy to forget. It’s always worth going back to the basics and keeping it simple when first trying out a new fishing spot.

How do you fish a new spot? What do you use to learn about a new fishing area? Share in the comments!