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You may think you know all about the fishing opportunities close to home, but do you?
There are stretches of creek, river backwaters, old gravel pits and ponds that you may never have heard of. A check with the local fishing club or bait shop can be very informative.
Many local hotspots are seasonal in nature. River run trout, spawning panfish and the cyclical nature of some fish populations can make a local hum-drum spot a world-class fishery overnight. It may not last so you'll have to keep your finger on the pulse of what's happening, even in your own backyard.
Heading off to your fishing destination isn't just a lot more fun in a group, it can save you money, as well.
Many motels and lodges will give discounted rates for groups. The price per person can be considerably less than what you'd pay as a loner. Stocking up on groceries is also a way that a group can save money.
Dividing up the gas costs, room rates and buying food in bulk can turn a cost prohibitive trip into an affordable vacation.
Fishing destinations are often picked on the basis of glowing fish reports and gorgeous photographs. No one said that it rains in this otherwise perfect location.
Even if the sun is shining, make sure you pack a coat for unseasonably cold mornings, rain gear for the once-in-a-lifetime hurricane and some extra, dry footwear. If the weather goes south your trip won't have to follow.
If you're heading out into the cold, take battery-powered hand and sock warmers with you. They can take a lot of misery out of an outing. Extra batteries would be a plus.
Pack a tacklebox only with the baits you'll be using on your next fishing trip.
Most of us have everything imaginable stuffed into the old tacklebox. We'll have panfish hooks, muskie crankbaits and a little stinkbait, all in a tangled mess of hooks and lure bodies. A pair of needlenose pliers and a hacksaw may be required to straighten it all out.
To avoid major frustrations, neatly put only the bass lures in if you're heading to bass waters. Leave everything else at home.
Think about visiting an exotic fishing location for a once in a lifetime experience. Fishing for huge Russian catfish, South American peacock bass or ocean-run stripers are without a doubt an experience you won't repeat often.
Use a travel agency and cut your headaches, and maybe your expenses, in half. Reinventing the wheel when it comes to traveling out of the country to fish is seldom worthwhile. Your travel agent may even be able to line up a guide who speaks English and who can give you a chance at those trophy fish you're looking for.
Hiring a guide can be a smart move when you're traveling to fishing destinations you're not familiar with.
Guides know not only the hotspots but what baits and tactics work in them. A guide can save you a lot of time and hit-and-miss fishing by setting you up where there's fish and showing you how to catch them.
Hiring a guide isn't a guarantee. Guides get skunked, too. But the time you save will make the cost of the guide worthwhile.
Locate a guide by searching the destination you have in mind on the Internet. Guides are often listed on sites dedicated to the lake or river you're interested in or on the local tourism site.
When you arrive at your wilderness destination you may be in for some surprises. The first realisation that you'll have is that if you didn't bring it with you, you're out of luck.
Pack carefully. There aren't any corner stores around to pick up what you forgot and left at home. Make sure you remember creature comforts like biodegradable soap and a toothbrush.
Be safe. Use conservation hooks so that you can unhook yourself easily, take frequent paddling breaks if you're not used to canoing and keep an eye on your campfire. Doctors may be a long ways off.
Remember your camera. Sounds silly, but this is a trip you won't want to forget.
Urban-area fishing has become almost the rage, it seems. Cities are promoting the fishing opportunities found within their borders and in many cases are putting a lot of money into lake developments, habitat improvement and fish stockings. Even the major urban centers offer park lakes and ponds, river access and boat rentals.
Check with your city government to find out who to talk to about local fishing sites. Many of these little spots are overlooked and can offer up some good catches of panfish and lunker-sized catfish and bass.
Major river systems flowing through cities can be bonanzas. Bridge pilings, dams and tailraces offer fantastic fishing opportunities that only a handful of local anglers are taking advantage of.
If you're wanting great fishing, no hassles and are willing to pay for the convenience, a fishing lodge is the way to go. Lodges make money when their visitors are catching fish.
The Internet is a great place to start. Fishing lodges advertise on local tourism and chamber of commerce sites and are easy to find there. Outdoor magazines are also good places to find lodge listings. Word of mouth from friends is yet another, and perhaps the most accurate, way to find a good lodge.
Make phone calls to several before you decide on which lodge you want to visit. Reservations are standard fare and you'll have to put some money down. Find out about local restaurants or lodge meals, pack your fishing gear and you're ready to go.
Deciding where to fish is crucial to your fishing success. If you're looking for fast action, trophy-class angling or just a few fish to take home to eat, the destination is an important consideration.
When you know what you want to catch, pick your destination carefully. Search the Internet for contact information and call bait shops, state fisheries biologists and tournament contacts and ask them for recommendations. Many times you'll find out where your favorite species is currently hitting right down to specific locations on the lake, or even by GPS coordinates. We all know that when we start talking fishing, we really start talking.
The next step is to find a place to stay. Again, an Internet search will put you onto a nice campground, motel or lodge where you can hang your hat while you're out on the water.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|