Your New Year’s resolution for 2018 should be to fish more. I’ll tell you why, and also how to make this happen.
First of all, why. That’s easy, fishing is good for you. It’s much healthier physically than many other pastimes. This is especially true for river smallmouth fishing, which requires plenty of physical effort to do well. And mentally, a day on a scenic stream or a quiet lake is much more relaxing and stress-reducing than many other activities. And of course, we all really enjoy fishing (or you wouldn’t be reading this).
So we’ve agreed that fishing is great, but how do can you actually do more of it in 2018? The answer is to plan and organize more trips ahead of time, the farther ahead the better. If you don’t plan and commit to fishing days in advance, there are always plenty of other things that will come up the next weekend or any other day you may have free. Even for all the retired guys I know, this is the case. They had expected that after retirement they would fish lots and lots. But just thinking they would didn’t make it happen. Their wife wants them to visit Europe with her. A grandkid in California is graduating. Some extra yard work comes up. A friend has gotten into golf in a big way and keeps inviting you along. The list of non-fishing distractions is endless, so don’t just wait for a day you are free of other things to do, because that day never comes.
Therefore to get more fishing days in 2018, you need to put specific fishing trips on your calendar. The best trips are those where you have book specific dates and put down a deposit. This way a spouse, someone else or something else can’t distract you with some other activity or project during that period. You’ve put real money down, the dates are inked in on the calendar, so you’re sure to go on that trip.
When many of you think of traveling for fishing, your mind drifts towards Alaska for salmon, the Keys for tarpon, Montana for trout or maybe the Bahamas for bonefish. Certainly these can be great experiences, but don’t forget smallies. They often offer faster fishing at a better price. Ontario lakes offer some spectacular smallmouthing, as does Maine. Even in Western states like Idaho and Oregon there are great smallmouth rivers. Heck, even exotic South Africa produces some superb smallmouth fishing, along with excellent trout and yellowfish.
Besides booking multi-day fishing trips you have to travel for, also booking some guided days during the season, even close to home, will likely ensure that you go fishing. While hiring a guide for multiple days over the season will cost a bit, if you share the expense with another person it is reasonable. More importantly, the quality of the experience is likely to be much higher than if you only went by yourself or with a friend. Not only are you likely to catch more fish with a guide, you’ll learn a lot and get to experience those fishing waters with a knowledgeable expert.
Another way to make sure you will actually fish, instead of getting sidetracked with other things, is to plan some outings with a group of friends or with members of a club or organization. Then you offer to be a driver and/or provide the boat or at least bring the lunches. This way other people are depending on you, so backing out will be difficult. The entire point is to make fishing a priority on some specific days of the season. Of course, if you also find time to grab the rod and fish on short notice some other days, so much the better. But if not, at least you’ll still get on the water on those planned-in-advance trips. You can thank me at the end of the year.