Learn to read the water!!!!!
This time of year it is critical that you get good reading the water, specifically about where bait is and where the schools of fish are.
If you are fishing in sunlight, use polorized glasses. You will see the bait in the distance appear as dark spots in the water. You want to fish there! If you don't see any bait where you are fishing, move. If it's cloudy or murkey, listen. You will hear little popping noises if the bait is around.
Look for the obvious birds and fish bursts in the water. Don't cast too soon! You need to be in position to land your plug in or past the burst, then get tension on your line right away becuase a hook up is coming. A cast 10 yards short may land a fish, but more likely not. Walk a little further before you cast. This is hard as your heart is pumping and you can see the fish, but keep your cool.
When you are watching a burst, take note of the direction it is headed, and position yourself accordingly. Get into a spot where the fish will come to you.
If fish are bursting on and off, wait to cast until you see them come up. Murphy's Law - as soon as you cast to the right, you will see them come up on the left and miss the action.
Sounds real simple, but the last 3 days of fishing had me scratching my head. Last night, I'm reading the water and catching tons of stripers and blues, while guys wading in the same water are coming up with a skunk. They were simply not reading the water and kept casting to an empty stretch of water.
They were very frustrated, and when I walked out of the water I had some beach combers ask me why I caught so many and the other guys didn't. Simple. I cast to where the fish were, they cast to empty water.
Learn to read the water!!!