Finding fish is the first step in catching them. Fish are not randomly scattered around a water body. Each species has preferred habitat where they feel safe, are at a comfortable temperature, have adequate dissolved oxygen, and can capture its preferred food efficiently. For some species, that may mean in the middle of the water column, in the main part of the water body; for other species it is in the middle of a large aquatic weed bed in shallow water near shore.
Understanding the habitat preferences of the species sought is critical to finding and catching them. Be aware that as the environment changes, so does the preferred habitat of the fish you are after. Where you found fish last week (or yesterday) may or may not be where you will find them today. Unraveling this riddle is the essence of fishing.
Understanding the anatomy of the water body you are fishing is a critical aspect of unraveling this riddle. Understanding and dissecting the water body into various parts will allow you to focus in on likely spots to find the fish you are after, as well as rule out areas that are not likely to hold fish. Fine-tuning where you will fish will allow you to spend most of your time in water that is likely to be productive.
Modern electronic sonar units make this chore very easy, but that equipment may not be available to novice anglers. Another less expensive option is hydrographic maps, or charts, of the water body you are fishing. Hydrographic maps are generally available for many large bodies of water. Unfortunately, they are not available for most small water bodies.