Hackney: A different way to use waypoints

I get a lot of questions about how I mark and use waypoints in my fishing. My way is a little different than what I think a lot of anglers do, but it works for me so I’ll share it with you.

The first thing, and maybe the most important, is that I don’t use them to mark specific spots like a small drop or a tiny abnormality in the bottom. When I find something that looks interesting I fish it. If I catch a fish, I mark the spot. But, in my mind I visualize it as an area.

The reason I do that is because I think it’s a mistake to mark too small of a spot. I frequently catch several fish from the surrounding area. Lots of times I’ll cover the area with a crankbait, a spinnerbait, a jig, a plastic lure of some sort and maybe a drop shot rig. Fish don’t always hold right on something. They move around — largemouth as well as smallmouth.

Sure, there are exceptions. Every now and again I’ll find something — like maybe a rock or a tiny gravel spot in the middle of a giant weedbed — that holds them right in place. But that’s the exception. It’s not the rule.

As you might expect, after two or three days of practice I have lots and lots of areas marked with waypoints. I organize them by lake and by date. The reason for starting with the lake is obvious. I add the date to the file because most of the time a spring spot isn’t going to be much help if I’m fishing during the dogdays of summer.

The next thing I’m going to say will probably surprise some of you: I don’t save my waypoints from one year to the next. I delete them before I sell my boat. I’m not a fan of fishing the same places twice even if it’s two or three years apart. It seems like I do better if I start fresh every tournament.

Again, there are exceptions. Sometimes I’ll find a spot that’s so unique, and so isolated, that I’ll want to keep it. I think of it like insurance. I assure you, however, that those spots are rare. I save no more than a dozen of them in a whole year.

If you are a recreational angler, you may want to think about waypoints a little differently. Let’s say you go somewhere once or twice a year but you go back there year after year at about the same time. You might want to save your waypoints.

I’m trying to win tournaments. You’re trying to catch fish with your friends and have a good time. That’s a fundamental difference.

Even if you do that, however, I encourage you to think about waypoints as areas rather than specific spots. Cover the water all around them with a bunch of different lures. Two or three hundred feet out isn’t too far. Most of the time you’ll catch more fish that way.