Here’s a few thoughts I have regarding the basics of being prepared for a good fishing trip, whether it be for a week, a day, or just an afternoon. Sure, having caught the fish of a lifetime, or simply catching lots of fish can make a good fishing trip more meaningful. . . but what about all the other times?
Here’s a few things that can make or break your fishing experience:
Are you well rested when you venture out? If you’re tired, you’re not concentrating as well as you possibly can; your reaction time may fluctuate; you’re not willing to push yourself to do whatever needs to be done to achieve success.
If you’re fishing unfamiliar water have you done any research? When fishing a new lake or river it’s helpful if you’ve done a little homework before you venture forth. . . are there maps available? Has there been any reports of best locations and/or baits/techniques? Have you asked the locals? Have you talked with local bait shops, or sporting goods stores in the area? Have you contacted your State or DNR for available information? All the information that can be gleaned from these sources can enhance your ability to find fish and/or catch them.
Do you have the right clothing for the right situation? All of a sudden it’s a downpour – did you remember to bring a rain suit? – imagine how miserable you’d be without it. It’s ten degrees and you’ve gotten your hands wet, did you remember an extra pair of gloves? In the Winter you can conserve ten degrees of heat by wearing a hat; and, in the heat of the Summer you can shade yourself from the harmful rays of the sun by wearing a hat and be ten degrees cooler.
Do you take additional equipment with you? Whenever I go I try to take an extra rod/reel, additional line in varying weights, additional baits, a few basic tools, etc. just on the outside chance that if for some reason a reel malfunctions, or a rod breaks I’m covered. Perhaps I get the professional overrun that destroys the integrity of my line. . . not a problem, I merely cut the offending line out of the reel and re-spool it with fresh line; maybe they’re only hitting one particular type of worm and I’ve used the last one. . . not a problem, it’s a short walk back to the car where I’ve got extras in reserve.
How’s your PMA? Yes that’s right, PMA, Positive Mental Attitude – never leave home without it! Your attitude has a great bearing on whether or not you’re working at the top of your game. Your ability to have confidence that every bait you choose is the right bait, and that every cast you make could be the one that lands you a nice catch – it’s of no consequence if you didn’t choose the right bait for the right situation, only that you have the confidence in the one you picked, while you’re using it.
Don’t be afraid of "quicksand" (like in the movie The Replacements). If something goes wrong…you lose a bait to a snag…your line breaks on the next cast…you hook a good fish and it throws the bait…don’t let these incidents drag you down into the "quicksand", rather, employ your PMA and get right back on track. Don’t buy into the concept of "Murphy’s Law"…shake these minor incidents off and continue to fish with the utmost confidence in yourself and your equipment.
Did you remember the snacks? Sounds silly, but hunger has a way of making you think about something other than the task at hand. If your energy levels suffer, your ability to make good decisions and maintain your concentration can be inhibited. I usually take along a high-energy granola bar, some hard candy (if it’s not too hot), and/or some chewing gum – not the sugarless kind. I also bring a bottle of water – especially for those scorching dog days of August. . . when taking along bottle(s) of water in extreme heat, I like to fill them close to capacity, but not full, then put them in the freezer the night before…as the ice in the bottle melts, it provides a great source of refreshment and, if it’s really hot, I can even hold the bottle to the back of my neck to lower my body temperature.
Take a friend, your wife, a kid. . . it’s always more enjoyable to be able to share the experience with another.
Take a notebook. . . so that you can record anything that can make future expeditions to the same area even more enjoyable – perhaps you found a unique piece of structure, or a drop off you didn’t know about, maybe the water levels are down real low and you can now see structures you never knew were there.
Take time to enjoy nature – not only does nature provide an enjoyable distraction through the flora and fauna that abounds, but it can also provide a valuable clue as to where the active fish are on any given day. . . learn to observe nature and take advantage of the insights it provides.
Fishing can be a wonderful experience each and every time you go if you’re prepared with some of the basic essentials, or it can be the worst experience you’ve had due to problems you weren’t prepared for. My preference is to have an enjoyable experience each and every time I go, and by simply employing these few basics, I do!
Mark Toth, The Ditch Fishing Chronicles