We’ve all heard the saying — a bad day fishing beats a good day anywhere else.
And a good day fishing? Well, it’s pretty darn difficult to top that.
But what if you could make every fishing trip just a little bit better? There’s nothing wrong with making a good day great, right?
Check out these simple tips for taking your 2018 fishing trips to the next level:
Whether you are visiting old stomping grounds or venturing into uncharted waters, it never hurts to have a plan. The night before a fishing trip, I like to organize my tackle, tie on the lures I plan to start with and load the car so I don’t leave something behind in the grogginess of Zero Dark Thirty. It also helps to have a plan once you get to the water. What species are you targeting? What’s your backup plan? Where are you launching the boat, and what spots do you plan to hit? You can always adjust as needed, but having a plan in place helps you spend more time catching fish once you hit the water.
Some anglers prefer to fish alone, but for my money, trips are always better with a little company. It’s safer, you can cover more water, it’s a great bonding activity and, hey, you never know when you’ll need an extra set of hands to net your fish or take a picture of your prized catch. Take your fishing buddies, or invite new ones. Take your kids and show them how to enjoy the outdoors. Take your spouse. Take your neighbor. Take a newcomer and show them the ropes. Take an old-timer and learn their secrets. If all else fails, bring your dog! It doesn’t have to be a dog you bought in the Cabela’s parking lot, either. I have a 5-pound Yorkshire terrier, and he loves tagging along on my fishing adventures.
Fishing can be hard work, and you’re bound to get hungry out there. Make sure you pack some goodies to refuel with, as well as plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Most of the time, I keep things simple. Beef jerky, dried apricots, granola and fig bars, apples, sunflower seeds and peanut butter sandwiches are the pillars of my fishing food pyramid. I drink mostly water, but there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a frosty soda or beer, especially on a hot afternoon. Two additional tips for your fishing snacks: save some chewy candy for the ride home, in case you get drowsy. And if you fish with kids, bring their favorite treats. It will help make each trip a positive memory (and if the fish don’t cooperate, it might save your bacon!)
The array of fishing electronics is pretty impressive these days. If you have a boat, a fish finder is a must-have item for locating schools, marking depth, reading water temperature and more. Even if you do your fishing on foot, technology is your friend. Download the Navionics app on your phone — it gives accurate depth and contour readings on many popular lakes and rivers. Invest in a water thermometer and digital fish scale to get quick, accurate readings. If you want to go all-out, there are some super cool toys out there, including the Deeper fish finder — a wireless, baseball-sized sonar device — and videogame-like ice fishing flashers, which allow you to locate fish below the ice and watch them chase after and strike your lure!
A good photograph is the best way to share your favorite catches, especially if you want to catch-and-release. Too often, I see anglers show off unattractive photos of dead, discolored fish in the kitchen sink or driveway. Even if you plan to keep your catch, a lively, colorful photo taken against the natural backdrop of a lake or stream makes for a much better keepsake. With smartphones these days, just about everyone has the means of capturing quality photos and videos. So take advantage! Snap a quick photo with all the great fish you catch in 2018. By the end of the year, you’ll have enough to fill a poster!