How to read a fishing report

When I’m not fishing, I am probably reading, or at least thinking about fishing. Fisheries reports come from a variety of sources, from stories exchanged at the bait shop to government publications collected by conservation officers. Some great information can be provided. As you learn how to read a fishing report, try to use the information it contains to anticipate the general terms and conditions for your next outing.

A quick search on the internet reveals many fishing reports online. This website has a useful tool that allows you to simply click on a state to view a list of various local fisheries reports. Don’t just rely on one report, however. And make sure to check the dates. Fishing reports are time sensitive information. At the time of reading, the terms have already changed.

The fisheries reports from the State Ministry of Fisheries and Wildlife are broken down by counties or regions such as northwest, southeast, etc. A list of specific bodies of water is provided in each region. Here you can check the activity of your favorite lake or river section. Each body of water has a list of the species that are caught, a rating of the bite (slow, fair, or good), and a hot bait or bait pattern. In addition, fisheries reports may include information about river or river flow rate (and if it rises or falls), ice conditions (for safety when ice fishing or open water for launching boats), or depths at which fish are biting (watch out for trends, if it does) changes).

After all, the best way to read a fisheries report may be a grain of salt. Not all of this information may be scientifically repeatable. As a wise man once said, “Trust, but check.” When you have gathered some consistent information from multiple sources and feel that you are ready to start the boat, double check that your boat registration is up to date.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida but raised on the banks of farm ponds in Oklahoma, he now hunts pike, small bass and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fishery research technician at OSU, in the US state of Iowa and in the US state of Michigan.

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