Last year when I started getting heavily into fishing, I spent most of my time stumbling and fumbling. Trial and error. Learning and relearning. Wasting a lot of time, wasting a decent amount of money, as well. Some of this would eventually be mitigated by seeking consul of more experienced anglers, not only in real life, but also on the internet.
By the end of the fall when the fishing season was winding down, I felt 100% more confident than I did when I started in beginning of summer, and I spent a lot of the winter learning as much as I could without actually being out there with a line in the water. Everything from television shows to magazines and messageboards. The weather may have taken away my ability to go fishing, but it still consumed my mind in what might be considered an unhealthy way, snow and ice be damned.
Looking forward towards this season, I decided to create a list of goals I would like to meet this year. Not simpleton stuff like “CATCH A TON OF HUGE BASS,” but, rather, focus on some of the smaller things that would help set me down a path that might lead to me someday being a guy who, in fact, can maybe catch a ton of huge bass. Not selfish stuff like “CATCH MORE FISH THAN EVERYONE ELSE,” but, rather, find ways to share the fun, exciting moments I have had fishing with my friends and family whom I love to fish with.
I decided, also, that I would ask some of those friends and family whom I love to fish with to do the same. I asked them to create a list of 3-5 goals, write a few sentences on each and email them to me. As of this writing, I have not received everyone’s list of goals yet, nor have I discussed their goals with them ahead of time, so I figured I would start with my list.
1) THAT OLD MAN RIVER
Living right off the Fox River and not fishing it would just be stupid. The river contains a plenty of the species on my to-do list (northern, walleye, musky and catfish), as well as a nice population of smallmouth bass, which I became fond of catching toward the end of last season. The problem with the river is…well…it’s a fucking river. It’s dynamic. It’s huge. It’s not the little ponds and stocked lakes I made a killing in when I was first getting a hang of things. I had some success in the river last year, but I was hitting at a very low average. Most of my trips to the Fox ended with the skunk, and I hope to start changing that this year. Not only by exploring more of the river, but becoming a better student of it. Fish aren’t complicated machines. They are habitual and instinctual, and if I pay more attention instead of just blindly casting whatever and wherever is convenient, I might actually learn something.
2) SHARE THE WEALTH
I have a few nice spots out here where I live. Not just the river, but a fair amount of creeks and ponds that I have had a lot of luck in, and I want to put my fishing friends on some fish out here. For instance…Bassmaster Nick didn’t get a goddamn thing last year but a couple creek chubs. He fished with us constantly, and while Alex and Chris and I were pulling stuff out, Nick sat there patient and persistent. I owe this man a lunker and I plan to get it for him. I want to photograph him holding one. As for Captain Gayhab, he has wanted a carp for a while, and the biggest fish I caught last year was a carp, and I caught it in a little creek about 7 or 8 feet wide and 3 feet deep. This year…I will be helping him land one. Alex…he just wants a fight. He wants the dramatic jumping and doubled over rod that you see on the TV and if I could just drag him out to the Fox or one of it’s creeks, I will show him that, pound for pound, a smallmouth hitting a jig & twister will put up a better fight than any of his mosnstrous Vulcan Lake largemouth.
3) SEEK AND DESTROY
Bass fishing is fun. But there are a lot of species of fish in the rivers and ponds and lakes around here, and I want to learn to target the others. Fishing on my lunchbreak today, a guy told me I was in a hotspot for crappie. It then occurred to me that I had no idea what type of bait and techniques I need to catch crappie. Similarly, as I was heading back to my car (having caught nothing, of course), a girl had hooked a small catfish. When I originally walked past her and asked what she was fishing for, she said “anything that’ll hit a bobber.” I could tell by her and her boyfriend’s reluctance to take the fish out of the water and unhook it that they either were unaware or afraid to handle it, though. So I stopped in, admired the catch and did it for them. It took some work, not having my pliers on me. She was using a very small worm hook and this cat did not want to open his mouth. After a little fumbling and some biting (not a toothy fish, but strong jaws for sure) I was able to free the hook (even saved the worm) and release it on it’s merry way. It made me remember…”hey…catfish…I should try and catch one.” The most frustrating part of fishing is when I am fishing for bass and they aren’t biting or aren’t where I expect. Instead of packing up and going home, though, why not just pick up a different rod, throw on some different bait and try a different fish?
I want to get a pair of waders. It just seems to make sense to me. Not just for the river and creeks, either. There are some honeyholes in the pond closest to my house that are just inaccessible from shore. I see guys wading the ponds all the time, and I can see why. Even 5 or 6 steps into the water give you a completely new vantage point and attack angle. Wading the Fox right out of the gate seems kinda terrifying and stupid, but starting in the ponds and streams would be a great way for me to acclimate myself and also give me the chance to fish some new spots. I’ve been tipped off to a section of a creek nearby with unusually high smallmouth numbers…cant get to them without waders, though.
So…there are some of my goals. Nothing too exciting, just refinements and fundamental stuff that I should probably know already anyway.
On to my very esteemed, succinct guests!
1. Catch a northern. This is self explanatory. At least 25 inches.
2. Catch at least 5 types of fish(excluding bluegill). Pike, smallmouth, largemouth, perch, cat, ect.
3. Get a catch with a real good fight that permanently cements love for fishing forever. I want to messing with the drag and shit.
My fishing goals this summer are:
-To catch a Carp, a Perch and a smallmouth bass
-To catch a largemouth bass over 5 lbs.
Goal #1: Catch a decent bass – I feel that I have gained a lot of information on bass hunting during the off season and I hope to be able to put myself on some lunkers.
Goal #2: Refine my technique for various retrieves – I think one of my weaknesses is my technique. I understand what I should be done theoretically but I don’t have any finesse.
Goal #3: Land a fish with teeth – However, it can’t be a baby. While bass are my focus, I would really like to pull something with teeth (northern/muskie). Mostly because I want to be Jeremy Wade.
Goal #4: Catch more fish this season than Creamed Corn – I’m coming for you.
Thanks for contributing you guys, and if anyone reading would like to contribute, just let me know. I would be happy to add more people, just wanted to get this posted before any of us got our first fishes of 2012.
Lets start crossing things off these lists starting tomorrow at Busse.