Long trips are the stuff of legend, they’re what separate the true die-hard anglers from the angler that has fished once this year, but still makes sure to tell everyone at the water cooler at work all about the giant bass caught on a topwater popper from the kayak…leaving out the fact that it was caught last year…by a friend.
The problem with those epic trips is that they’re few and far between. Even the most “badass” angler has to pull a day job. Those last minutes trips that you get invited on after work, the phone call on Saturday morning, those are the ones that make you stoked enough on fishing to get through the work week. Maybe even get you stoked enough to take some time off from work and go on those longer trips.
1) You Can’t Overthink Things
Whenever you have weeks or even months to plan a trip you start to overplan. That four-day trip with a buddy? Now it’s an expedition with a camera crew, a mission statement and a crowdsourcing campaign. Getting that last minute phone call, the one that gives you barely enough time to get your kayak onto the trailer, forces you to just go with the flow and relax.
The last time I found myself on the water just minutes after shutting down my computer, I realized I didn’t have my camera, or my GoPro, or any pressure to catch fish. I hadn’t shared that I was heading out on social media, I hadn’t brought any gear to test out, I was just fishing with a buddy for smallmouth bass. We didn’t catch any giant, but we caught a few good fish. I’m not going to show you any photos or video of the fish we caught that day, I’m not going to tell how how we caught them, just know that I had a lot of fun. Instead of thinking how every trip and can get you a new sponsorship deal or more social media followers, how about every once in a while, you just fish. Remember that?
2) You’re Forced To Go Minimal
When you can’t rig up seven rods before you even decide whether or not you’re fishing freshwater or saltwater, you’re forced to fish with less. Fishing with less gear, whether that be less rods or less lure choices, means you’re forced to rely on skill, not the latest innovations in the fishing world. Instead of following the drop off on your fish finder or throwing every bait style on the market until you hook up, you’ll be forced to catch all your fish on one lure, using your good’ol fishy brain.
Instead of watching your fish finder, save time charging batteries and start learning new skills like learning what the bottom contour looks like based on the topography around the water. If you’re fishing in a cove of the lake that has steep hills all around it, there’s a good chance there’s going to be some nice drop offs that will hold fish if you happen to have brought a lure that will let you fish vertical structure. Picking up on clues besides what your electronics or your fancy gear is telling you will make you a better angler. Even if you don’t like going minimal, getting forced to every once in a while is good for you.
3) There’s A Chance You Could Fail
After my trip out to the Adirondacks, I’ve decided that I’m going to try and only go on trips that have a good story. The key element to making sure trips have a good chance of being worth remembering? Leave a good chance of failure. If the trip goes perfectly as planned, nothing eventful happens, which means it’s hardly worth talking about or even remembering yourself. The trips that go horribly wrong though (as long as no one gets hurt…seriously), those are the ones that you remember for a long time.
Instead of trying to plan out every detail, if you get the chance to block off a few hours on the weekend pick a destination and try to figure it out. Sure there’s a chance that you could catch no fish, but isn’t that better than going to the exact same spot you’ve picked apart 1,000 times already and catching some nice fish? Learning new skills and having new experiences on the water is all about challenging yourself. Unless you say yes to the unknown and go on a trip that you can’t over-plan, you’ll never become the angler that you really want to be–you can be that angler.