We anglers are creatures of habit. Year after year, we return to the same spots. We use the same lures, we chase the same species, we chew the same flavor of sunflower seeds — and we get the same thrill when the fish are biting.
But those habits began somewhere. Unlike salmon and steelhead, we aren’t drawn to our favorite spots by nature’s instinctual pull. We return because we’ve been there before, enjoyed success and unlocked the secrets to tangling with line-peeling smallmouth bass, high-flying rainbows or monstrous sturgeon.
As the calendar turns to 2016, you can bet your bass boat on me hitting my favorite fishing spots over the next 12 months. But I also want to try something different in the new year. Part of the excitement of fishing is the mystery of the great unknown, and what better way to feel that excitement than to cast a line into unknown waters? Here are some of my New Year’s Fishing Resolutions for 2016:
1. Catch a walleye: It’s hard to admit for a guy who grew up in Michigan, but I’ve never fished for walleye. My childhood fishing experiences were limited to bass and bluegill lakes and ponds, and walleye opportunities are few and far between in Idaho. In fact, the Gem State has only three lakes with managed walleye populations: Oneida Lake, Oakley Reservoir and Salmon Falls Creek Reservoir. I’ll be targeting Salmon Falls for my journey — it’s past Twin Falls near the Nevada border, putting it in range for a day trip. I don’t know much about catching these toothy predators, but I’ll do some research and try to figure it out. I promise to take you along for the fun this spring or summer.
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2. Have a “crappie” day: On occasion I have caught both species of crappie but never in large numbers like I have with bluegill and perch. When I have landed a crappie I’ve usually been targeting other panfish or bass. My plan is to head out to Brownlee or C.J. Strike specifically with crappie in mind. A good source of mine in New Plymouth says 2016 should be a good year for crappie, so what better time to get dialed in on catching them? I’ll keep some for the frying pan, too. Crappie are some of the best tasting fish around.
3. Set a state record: This one is more of a long-term goal. I think it would be pretty darn cool to catch a state record fish of any species, but one particular record intrigues me most: largemouth bass. Largemouth are my favorite fish and the Idaho Fish and Game record entry reads: “10 pounds, 15 ounces. Anderson Lake. Mrs. M.W. Taylor.” No other information is provided — not even a date. It’s a big mystery, and it makes me want to know when and how this fish was caught. At any rate, it’ll take an 11-pounder to break the record, which is no easy feat given Idaho’s cool climate and short bass growing season. I caught an 8-pounder a few springs ago and I have a few ideas about where a new state record bass might lurk.
I recommend making your own list of fishing resolutions for 2016. Who knows? You might even start a new tradition.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org.