Hunting Fishing

Fishing by the numbers: A closer look at what The Bee’s 1-4 rating system is telling you

Anglers seem to love our 1-4 fishing rating system. It gives a shorthand method of deciding how good an overall bite was going. We often are asked how we do the ratings; here are some insights.

We know that time is of the essence for any fisherman and being able to look over all the reports and get a relative rating just might be what you need to quickly decide where to go. We strive for fresh reports because bites can change very fast and knowing that conditions are deteriorating can make what info you’re getting (even if it’s just a day old) inaccurate.

Making a relatively accurate forecast is more than just mulling the most recent reports we’re getting; it’s also putting in a little Kentucky windage to consider the variables we know will probably affect the fishing. There may be a really hot bass bite going on but the info is a few days old and we find out that there’s a big inflow of runoff coming into the lake now. That bite that sounded like a 4 or even a 3 will become a 2.

Here’s a closer look at those 1-4 ratings:

1 Try dynamite – When the bite is nonexistent and no one has seen anyone catching fish. An example: the kokanee bite at Bass Lake. We heard there were a few caught by expert kokanee anglers this year, but that was it. For the regular angler, don’t waste your time!

2 Have to work hard – We use this one the most because it means that there are possibly some fish to be caught by anglers who know what they’re doing. Someone is catching some but it’s not a big bite – or someone’s not talking about it! This rating is also a good default when the bite is good but overall conditions might be changing, dictating a conservative approach. We would rather that you found out they were biting better than you were led to believe than vice versa!

3 Limits possible – My favorite. This usually means that we have the confidence and multiple confirmed reports that a bite is looking good and a normal angler has a chance at some good catches. We want to see some consistency and a common thread running throughout the reports. Some sources are very reliable and continually on point and we give these anglers/sources a lot of credit for their accuracy and knowledge.

4 Fish jumpin’in the boat – We reserve this rating for only something quite remarkable.

The biggest misconception: Anglers tell me that what’s in the report isn’t what’s going on at the lake for them. Understand, the report we’re doing is designed to give general information for normal anglers on the overall bite. In fact, I don’t think these anglers really want us to share what they’re doing!

By the way, we aren’t suggesting that you actually need to bring dynamite along for the 1s. But I confess there were times when I wish I had some in the boat. Hmmm …maybe we need a new “Kaboom!” rating?

Never give up!

Roger George is The Bee’s fishing expert:, Rogergeorgeguideservice on Facebook and @StriperWars