A fishing trip is a wonderful idea for spending a day outdoors, close to nature. You can take your friends with you or even your family and have a great bonding experience. You are to return with a lot of fish and with memories that will last you a long time.
That being said, there is plenty that can go wrong when you go fishing. When it comes to fishing trips, failure to plan is planning to fail. You have to contend with the weather, which can be unpredictable, and also make other arrangements. To make things easier for you, here are 11 key steps to planning the ultimate fishing trip:
1. Choose the Right Spot
There is no dearth of quality fishing spots in the US. You can pick from rivers, lakes, and ponds where you can head to for a day of fishing. Some locations have been designed to make fishing easier for beginners. These are areas which usually attract large crowds, and even though you will be able to catch a lot of fish without spending too much time, crowded lakes and ponds are mostly dirty, and the quality of species you catch will not be up to the mark.
The ideal options are areas which are secluded and remote. Though it will take you some time to reach there, you can fish in peace and without being disturbed. However, make sure you confirm that you are not on private property, or else your fishing trip could end up in a trip to the jail. Ocean fishing is also an option, but for that, you will have to drive out to the coast. Of course, if you live near the coast, heading to the ocean is the best option.
One thing you need to consider about public fishing spots is that the water might be dirty. In that case, you won’t be able to eat the fish you catch. Check with the local authorities before fishing so that you can be sure about the hygiene level of the body of water you are fishing at.
Keep in mind your choice of location will determine your accommodation options and other logistical factors you have to arrange for, such as a vehicle which can reach the location easily. Your everyday sedan might not make it on a bumpy road. Moreover, you should know, ahead of time, whether you will have to set up camp or you can just rent a room. Depending on the spot you choose, you have to…
2. Get Your Fishing License
Up until a few years back, you had to find a store where you could obtain a fishing license and then get one. The law states that you need a license if you want to go fishing. Thankfully, the process has improved since and now you can easily get your license online. Once you have decided on the location you will be fishing at; you can go online to get your license. Rest assured; a few clicks is all it will take for you to get your license and then you can move ahead with planning your trip, following the below.
3. Research the Area In-Depth
Once you have decided on your fishing spot, you should do your best to learn about the body of water there and the species you will find there. After all, if you want to catch trout, you have to head to a lake where you can find them aplenty. In addition, get an idea of the tide and the depth of the water, so you are not in for a surprise when you get out there on your boat. Catfish are found in most lakes and rivers across the US, so if you are planning to catch catfish, you will find plenty of spots for them.
However, if you are going to fish a particular species, such as walleye, you will have to spend some time finding the right spot to catch some. The same goes for other trophy fish, such as rainbow trout, gar, and bowfin. For example, if you want to catch bowfins, you are best off heading south.
Here too, you can utilize the internet, by looking up fishing in the area you are heading to on your trip. This knowledge will come in handy in determining the type of bait you need as well as your strategy for catching a big haul. Of course, you can always throw in some food scraps and whatever species are in the water will show up sooner or later!
4. Set a Budget
In addition to the license, there are a number of items on which you will have to spend money when planning a fishing trip. Hence, the best approach is to set a budget in advance so that you know how much money you can spend without worrying. Make sure you include the cost of each and every possible item you will need on the trip as well as keeping some money aside in case you need.
When you are out, away from home, you never know when you might need the cash. And you are unlikely to find an ATM near some of the more remote fishing spots across the country, so it is best to be prepared for such situations.
5. Bait ‘em Right
As mentioned, you need to be clear about the species you want to catch and get your equipment accordingly. Most significantly, you need to get the right bait to lure the creatures’ in. For instance, you cannot show up expecting to catch bass with catfish bait, can you? This is why you have to decide on the species you want to catch and plan accordingly.
Your choice of the fishing spot will play a significant role in this, so choose wisely. If you need help, it is better to head to a store where you can get the right bait. The guy on the counter will probably be able to guide you in the right direction.
6. Gear Up
Now, we move on to the most important part of the process. You need to have the right gear on hand to enjoy your fishing trip. For one, without the right equipment, you won’t be able to catch much. Moreover, you also need to pack it right. Yes, it isn’t just a matter of getting the right gear. It has to be packed perfectly as well. Here are a few tips you can follow in this regard:
- The crucial items, which can aid you in times of emergency, have to be packed first, such that they are easily accessible, and you can retrieve them easily. These include your first-aid kit as well the tools you need for cutting the hooks and lines when you are out on the water, for instance pliers.
- Other items you should pack at the top of the pile are the food and beverages. Also, keep your sunscreen handy so you can apply it easily because you will be spending a lot of time under the sun. Sunburn can ruin even the most memorable fishing trip.
- Next are the documents, as mentioned above. You should keep them on hand but wrapped safely in a waterproof bag. You don’t want your fishing license getting wet, do you?
- Obviously, you will have to carry your fishing gear with you as well, which has to be packed separately from the other stuff. However, do make sure you carry extra gear, such as reels, line, and rods. Moreover, if you are planning to go fishing on a powerboat, keep some extra fuel on hand as well.
- You will also need a container to store the fish in. It is ideal that you get a cooler, with ice, so that the fish remains fresh and you don’t have to bear the nasty smell.
You can add to this list any item you feel you will need on your fishing trip.
7. Check the Forecast
The one thing beyond your control which can ruin your fishing trip is the weather. It is a given that the weather will be worse when you are out the water as compared to on the land. Hence, if you are not taking warm clothes along, you will probably not have a good time.
Particularly during the early morning, the weather can get chilly, and most of the best fishing spots across the US receive frequent rain, so you have to be prepared. Otherwise, you are running the risk of hypothermia. So, when packing, make sure you have clothes for fighting off the chilly wind and the rain as well.
Not to mention, you have to pick the right time of the day to fish so that you can get the biggest possible haul. The ideal time to fish is early in the morning or in the early evening. The better option is to wake up early and get out on the water.
8. Plan Your Meals
A common mistake people make when going on a fishing trip is not arranging for their meals in advance. They expect to catch enough fish to feed themselves on the trip, which is possible, but not something you can rely on. A slight mishap can cause the fishing expedition to get delayed, and you don’t want to be left hungry and cold. So, the best option is to arrange sufficient food in advance.
Also, check the logistical arrangements first so that you have a clear idea of whether or not it will be possible to cook on the spot. In that case, take dry and raw food so that you don’t have to cook.
9. Camp Up
You have to set up a proper campsite when you are out fishing. This includes secure shelter so that you stay safe from the elements of nature. If possible, look for lodging near the area you will be fishing in so that you don’t have to carry camping gear. In case you do have to camp, make sure you learn how to pitch a tent and secure it tightly. Store your food and belongings safely in case there are any wild animals around. Also, it is a good idea to light a fire when you go to sleep to keep the animals away.
10. Arrange for a Boat
The best option for you is to make friends with someone who owns a boat. Well, that would be incredibly selfish, but it would ensure you don’t have to arrange for a boat every time you go fishing. Thankfully, renting a boat is not difficult at most fishing sites around the US. You can even book a boat online before you head there. If you don’t know how to steer a boat, it is best to hire a guide for the tour as well. This way, you will have one less thing to worry about.
The last step you need to take to plan the ultimate fishing trip is review all the steps mentioned above. Yes, you may have gone over them while planning but you have to make sure you did not miss anything. You cannot find out after reaching your destination that you forgot bug repellent or the bait for a particular species of fish.
This is take the time to go over each step. In fact, make a checklist and keep checking items off as you go along. Remember, effective planning is the key to having fun on your fishing trip and this last step will ensure you have planned perfectly.
So, there you have it, the 11 key steps to planning the ultimate fishing trip. From deciding on your destination to setting a budget to deciding your meals, do everything ahead of time so that you can take the stress out of the equation and multiply the enjoyment, which will make your trip truly memorable!