Wouldn't it be amazing to have the time to cast a line while on your way to the grocery store, the bank or even to pick up the kids? Rural life affords us the perfect backdrop, yet it's up to us to make the time. Outdoorsman and fishing expert, Jim Mize shares his tips on how a little organization, simplification and pre-planning can free you up to fish more often.
From my cabin in the mountains, I can drive to one of three trout streams in about thirty minutes. A small pond with bass and bluegill is less than a mile away. Many of us in rural areas have easy access to water and that creates an opportunity for frequent, short trips.
One of my jokes with friends starts out, “I had to go to the store today so I stopped to fish on the way.” Then I’ll talk about the fishing rather than the store and probably taunt them with a photo or two.
These short trips lend themselves to simple fishing. Fly fishermen will admit they carry about two hundred flies when they only use ten patterns in a year. Bass fishermen keep boxes of lures in every compartment of their boats and often forget where they are or even that they have them. Reducing your tackle down to what you actually use on a short trip makes it easy to grab and go. As a result, you go more often.
My fly fishing gear for a quick trip is about as simple as it gets.
I have a lanyard that I wear with everything I need except my rod. On the lanyard, there are forceps to remove fish, nippers to cut my leader, a couple spools of tippet and a fly box. In the fly box are about six different patterns in duplicate just in case I snag a tree limb overhead and lose my fly. It happens.
The idea is to carry enough gear to handle the fish and replace your fly or lure a couple times. Anything more than that rarely gets used.
My rod stays rigged with the fly I plan to start with and I often use that one the entire trip. Seasonal patterns in fishing tend to repeat so I can look at last year’s fishing log and see what was working then. It almost always works again a year later.
If I’m headed to the pond alone, the fly-fishing gear may be the same with the exception of the flies I carry. I’ll add a few poppers for the bass and bluegill and perhaps a small spool of heavier tippet for the fly leader.
When youngsters go with me, I switch over to spin-fishing gear as that’s their preference.
A Zebco 33 reel and rod combo, a bucket for fish in case we keep some for supper, pliers, hooks, split-shot, bobbers and a few lures round out the gear. Bait varies with the season and the fish we’re after. But all this fits in the bucket so I simply grab it by the handle and head out the door.
Short, frequent trips provide fishermen with a subtle advantage, namely, the ability to keep a steady pulse on the fish and their patterns. Weather and seasons cause fish to behave differently. Water temperature changes move fish to different depths. Spawning season, especially for bluegill, can create some joyful afternoons with the youngsters. Being on the water routinely, even for brief periods, allows you to discover these opportunities.
Also, at certain times of the year, fishing peaks during short windows of time. That first hour at sunrise or the last hour at sunset can be the best of the day. When the opportunity presents itself, a few peak hours can be more productive than a full day of fishing.
Don’t get me wrong, I still like to escape for a day and think about nothing but fish. Schedules don’t always present open days on the calendar, however, yet an open hour or two can be found in any week.
These quick trips also provide a work break or just a chance to slow down and enjoy being outdoors. Most of us moved to the country for the chance to get out more. Simplifying your fishing makes it that much more convenient so it’s easy to go.