John McCoy is the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette’s award-winning outdoors writer. His "Woods & Waters" page appears weekly in the Sports section of the Sunday Gazette-Mail.
In 32 years of outdoors writing, John has had articles published in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Bowhunter, North American Whitetail, Hatches and other publications. His works have earned more than 50 state, regional and national awards for writing and photography.
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Attention fishermen: This week’s column is actually a book review.
I hope that didn’t scare you away, because the book being reviewed has the potential to help you catch more fish, and to catch them more consistently.
Here’s the review:
Having been an outdoors writer for more than three decades, I feel qualified to make the following statement:
Books that tell you how to catch more fish are a dime — no, a nickel — a dozen.
The best of them contain a few paragraphs of fresh material hidden among pages and pages of clichés, conventional thinking and shopworn suppositions. The worst are out-and-out BS designed to push commercial products.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I came across a volume that went against all those trends. The information in it is not only unique, it’s downright revolutionary.
The book is “Predicting the Bite: How to Predict When Fish Will Be Biting,” by Ron Reinhold.
I might never have heard of the book if one of Reinhold’s friends hadn’t turned me onto it. John McLain, a retired Detroit-area police detective who supports my fly-tying addiction with feathers and hooks and flosses and tinsels, called out of the blue one weekend and asked if I’d seen the book yet. I told him I hadn’t.
“You need to,” John said, and explained why.
A few days later, a copy of the book arrived in the mail. I unwrapped it and started reading. After seven chapters, I paused just long enough to say, “Wow. This guy really does have it figured out!”
Reinhold shows how to make sense of environmental factors — barometric pressure, temperature trends, wind direction, latitude, altitude and day length, among others — to accurately predict when fish will feed.
How accurate is his method? For two years straight, he correctly predicted when the famous “Hex” hatch of giant mayflies would emerge on Michigan’s Boardman River, and when trout would feed on them. Given that the Hex bite is notoriously hard to figure, that’s pretty darned convincing.
I’m an avid fly fisherman. A sizable portion of Reinhold’s method focuses on insects and when they’ll hatch, so I have a natural interest in what he has to say. Still, lure and bait fishermen should not ignore this book.
Little fish feed on insects, and when little fish are feeding, big fish come out to eat them. Reinhold devotes entire chapters to bite-prediction principles for warmwater anglers, lake anglers, tournament anglers and saltwater anglers.
If nothing else, Reinhold’s groundbreaking advice on reading barometric-pressure trends should make his book a fixture in anglers’ libraries for decades to come. It certainly has convinced me to become a barometer-watcher, and we Cynical Members of the Media aren’t easy critters to convince.
Good as it is, though, “Predicting the Bite” isn’t perfect. The information is quite profound and is presented clearly enough, but the book isn’t easy to read. “Fascinating but tiresome” best describes my take on it.
There’s a time-honored instruction aphorism that says, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.” Reinhold subscribes to this in spades. He summarizes and summarizes and summarizes some more.
Repetition aids comprehension and helps cement concepts in readers’ minds — up to a point. The amount of repetition in this book makes reading it a slog. But just when your eyes glaze over and you’re ready to tune out, some new and interesting tidbit pops up and piques your interest again.
At a suggested price of $39.95, the book is pricey. Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com have it listed in the $30 range, which seems reasonable considering the uniqueness and quality of the content.