Fishing might be the foundation of your trip, but don’t overlook the peripheral details in your excitement. Here are some important points to keep in mind when you’re planning your next angling adventure.
License and Registration
Not so long ago, obtaining a fishing license was a process. Especially in remote towns, you had to ask around to find out which stores or bait shops sold them, locate the shop, and potentially kill some time before the shop opened in the morning.
With the Internet, all that time has been condensed to the click of the mouse. Simply find the state in which you'll be fishing, and buy the license online. If you'll be fishing, you'll need a license, period.
Reserving a campsite is just as easy.
Count on Bad Weather
The temperature of the air will generally feel cooler on the water than on land, especially during the early morning or evening hours. And with no buffer for the wind, being in a boat can get chilly. Add to that the ever-present possibility of rain, and you've got the makings for misery or, worse, hypothermia. Pack a good sweater or fleece and rain gear, so your fishing trip and your health don't get spoiled when the weather turns.
Organize Your Gear
Your gear should be organized in a way that’s logical in situations where time is of the essence. Crucial items like a first-aid kit
and scissors or pliers for cutting line and hooks should be easily accessible at all times, as should drinks and snacks. Sunscreen, even on cloudy days, should be kept out at the top of your pack or tackle box, and applied often.
Keep your permits or licenses in a Ziploc bag or other waterproof container—and make them easy to get to. (I like to tape mine to the side of my boat or canoe at the beginning of every trip). Bring extra rods, reels, spools of line and tackle, and extra fuel if you’ll be in a powerboat. And if you’re planning to pack out some of the fish fillets at the end of the trip, don’t forget a cooler with ice.
Plan Your Meals
Even if you’re fishing in the must bountiful, well-stocked lake in the country, don’t plan
on catching fish for your meals. Bad things can happen—the weather can turn nasty, the fish can get finicky or you can have an unlucky day of fishing. For all intents and purposes, eating fish on a trip should be seen as an added bonus, not an absolute.
Sausage can be brought as a backup, in case the fish aren’t biting, and can be used to compliment just about any camping meal—macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, ramen, beans and rice, pizza. Plan for quick, non-cook breakfasts (fruit, bagels, trail mix) so you can get on the water before the heat of the day.
Most fishermen I know don’t usually bother with lunch, opting instead to keep fishing, but beef jerky and granola bars will suffice. Dinner should be the big meal of the day, and a dessert like pudding or candy bars will be appreciated after a day of casting.
Know the Lay of the Lake Ahead of Time
In terms of tackle, I've had luck trolling near weeds and other shoreline vegetation with just about everything over the years—spoons, spinners, jigs. If my boat will be in more open water, and particularly around rock outcroppings or other landmarks, I plan to start by searching for eddies and casting some shallow or deep-diving crankbait, depending on the water's depth.
If you'll be fishing for trout, the game will be completely different, and the most important thing to note will be when the insect hatch occurred. Your best bet is to read up about the fishing in your specific region well before you head out. Each body of water will have its own secrets, as will the fish that inhabit it. For as much of a sure-thing as you can have in the fishing world, hire a fishing guide who knows the lake or river like the back of his hand.
Plan to Tip Your Guide
If you decide to hire a fishing guide, you should plan to tip according to the service, as you would at a restaurant or hotel. 15 percent is the general point of reference—more or less depending on your satisfaction of his work. You should tip in cash. And it would be in your best interest to tip well if you plan to fish with him again or if you landed a particularly large fish.