How Anglers Get To Carnegie Hall – The Art of Practice

Submitted by Brett Fitzgerald on June, Jun 21, 2014


An old man on a cane was strolling along Seventh Avenue in New York City when he came upon a tourist. The old man stopped the tourist and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

The unsuspecting tourist replied, “Sorry, I am new in town and don’t know the way to Carnegie Hall.” The old man smiled and said, “Practice, practice, practice.” 

Angler’s can learn from the wise old New Yorker and improve their skills through practice. It is natural to just want to go fishing without much preparation, but if you want to be among the 10 percent of anglers that catch 90 percent of the fish you might want to consider the notion of practice. After all, the old axiom that practice makes perfect is more than just a saying. 

If you are willing to practice knots you will get very good at tying them; if you are willing to practice casting you will get very good at casting. Willing may be the operative word.

If you are willing to practice when you are not fishing it’s likely to produce huge dividends when you do fish. Of course there is also plenty of time to practice when you are fishing, if you are willing to do it. 

Whether fishing with a buddy, spouse, or tournament partner, anglers are often part of a team and the success of the team depends on the skills of the individuals that make up the team. No specialists here. Captain Bouncer Smith, a well known Miami Captain, says a good team is made up of individuals who can play different positions on the team. Being able to play all the positions well requires practice.

Memory experts tell us that it is intensive repetition that perfects our skills such as knot tying, casting, or for that matter riding a bicycle. You need to approach the task seriously and practice it over and over again if you want to embed it in your mind and generate a capacity to complete a given task without having to think about it. Practice is all about repetition of the task and the willingness to do it.

Many professional anglers use a method called visualization to perfect their fishing skills. Visualization can be described as a technique for creating images in your mind that result in the successful accomplishment of a desired task. Captain Bouncer recalls that his friend Captain Marsha Bierman always told her seminar audience to practice in their head. The idea is to visualize in your mind what needs to be done to complete any fishing activity at the highest level of skill. He says, “It could be anything -- going to the rod, engaging the drag, winding the reel, etc. Any angler can practice dropping back, winding tight, pumping and winding, the list is endless.” (The book has some detailed examples of visualization.)

Captain Bouncer puts it like this, “To become a better fisherman, anglers need to practice all the skills of fishing; learn how to work the electronics; handle the boat; fight a fish; net a fish; gaff a fish, throw a cast net; any skill needed in fishing is worth taking the time to practice.” 

PresleyCaptain Chris Myers guides on Mosquito Lagoon. He is a proponent of conducting practice while you fish. He says, “Never get into a routine of blind casting. Always pick some sort of target. It may be a pod of baitfish, a wake, a sand patch, or just a spot you focus on with your eyes. Using this method with every cast is practicing your accuracy.” He operates by a simple slogan, “The better you cast, the more you will catch.” He never makes a cast without a target in mind. 

Captain Blair Wiggins, of Addictive Fishing TV, sums up the importance of sight casting pretty well when he says, “They only eat with one end of their bodies.” You can’t be behind the fish you have to be in front of them. The way you do that consistently is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall you have to practice, practice, and practice.

Even the great statesman Winston Churchill had a philosophy that can be applied to fishing. “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity,” he said. “The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” It is a state of mind. Anglers should embrace practice as an opportunity to improve skills and increases fishing success. 

Editors Note: This article is a selection from Ron Presley’s award winning book, “Secret’s from Florida’s Master Anglers.” Many more details on the notion of practice, including examples to follow, can be found in the book. Examples include casting, electronics, cast netting, stealth, and more. In addition to a whole chapter on practice, more fishing tactics from 19 other expert anglers are included. Both “Secrets from Florida’s Master Anglers” and Ron’s second book, “Fishing Secrets from Florida’s East Coast” make the perfect gift for any angler. Both are available online by clicking here. 

Bouncer Smith
Chris Myers 
Blair Wiggins