Why do you fish? I recently posted that seemingly simple question on social media and got bombed with responses. Some of them were snide, others very simple and yet others were long, drawn out dissertations of some innate drive or instinct that needs to be satisfied. The most common answer is the correct one; fishing is fun. Yes there is something primal about pursuing fish and game and sure we may get some dinner out of it but, at least in terms of modern times in the good ol’ USA, we do it because it’s fun. Well, if some fun is good, more fun is better, right? Yep, but how do we inject more fun into our fishing? Well, that has a multi-faceted answer too. Let’s look at it.
The obvious way to add more fun is to fish more. That sounds easy, unless jobs, kids, and life in general get in the way. In that case, how do you fish more? You fish more local. Despite what your TV or The Web tells you, fishing doesn’t have to be exotic, expensive or complicated to have fun. Even the most seasoned traveling anglers can have a blast fishing a tiny neighborhood park pond loaded with smallish bass or panfish. It comes down to mindset; set realistic expectations of what you might catch and don’t lament over the lack of scenery or some random dog running around the pond. You’re fishing - for fun. You have a minimal time or emotional investment so enjoy an hour trying to catch a 10” largemouth and if you don’t, who cares? It’s low risk, low reward, but a reward none the less.
Sizing your tackle appropriately makes it even more fun. Tiny fish are a blast on tiny tackle. Ultra-light rods, hair thin line and diminutive lures can lead to big grins with puny fish. Want to learn nuances? Perhaps consider carrying only a single lure and figuring what action you must impart to get them to bite it. If you typically fish conventional tackle, try a fly rod instead, or vice versa. If you’re a fly angler that typically fished for trout, you may find a 3 or 4wt and pond full of panfish is a welcome change. When it comes to fishing small neighborhood ponds, it’s not about where you’re fishing or what you catch; you’re fishing and that alone should be fun.
For the record, I keep a single rod and small box of tackle in my Tundra at all times for just such occasions.
I kind of already mentioned it but choosing a different genre of tackle is another way to increase the fun in your angling adventures. Hardcore derby bassers used to fishing with 20 casting rods on the deck may find that a day on their favorite lake with an 8 weight fly rod and modest selection of poppers and streamers is a welcome change and loads of fun. Similarly, a dyed in the wool fly guy used to focusing on the perfect drift might find that a light power spinning rod and few marabou jigs feels all new and is tons of fun. In both cases, there is a learning curve involved and, for open-minded folks, that in and of itself is invigorating and fun.
Another way to have the most fun is to fish for what’s biting. You may have your heart set on catching walleye but when a school of white bass is biting mid-day while your walleye are snoozing, forget the walleye and plunder white bass for a while. Your bass have the post-spawn blues? Why fight it? Go catch some of those spawning bluegills or crappie. Fishful Thinker TV is built around the concept of fishing for what’s biting because we like to have fun.
A really great way to add fun to your angling is to take somebody brand new to the sport, or at least way down the experience and skill ladder from yourself. Teaching others about your passion is automatically fun and it’s even more so when you see them light up over things you take for granted. Battle-hardened anglers get jaded and can end up simply going through the motions and expecting success. Newbs and kids, on the other hand, find the joy in every bite and every catch. That simple pleasure is seriously contagious. Even if the other person has some angling experience, they will be thrilled to fish with somebody they view as an expert. I know that for a fact because as a professional guide and fishing show host, I fish with lots and lots of different people and I still get excited to fish with someone more experienced than I am at whatever aspect of angling we’re doing. My emotion is not lost on the expert and it wouldn’t be on you either. If nothing else, you can find personal satisfaction in putting somebody on your fish, that much I know for sure. It’s one thing to catch fish, it’s a completely different thing to get somebody else to catch fish.
Here in June where angling opportunities abound, finding ways to have more fun with your fishing is easy. It’s only a matter of mindset, open-mindedness or imagination. Step outside your comfort zone, set your ego aside, fish local and take somebody new. Remember, we’re only fishing for fun.