Baby, it’s cold outside. By now you’re probably tired of that infamous song lyric after having it drilled into your cranium by holiday marketers nationwide, but there is no escaping the obvious; it is indeed cold outside. I know, I know, it’s supposed to be cold and possibly snowy around the mountain west at this time of year, but that does not mean I have to like it. No worries though, I’m not the type to sit here in my office and complain; that would be pointless. Instead, I survive by making travel plans. And in my world, that means fishing trips! I’m here now to say that you too should make travel plans.
Whether it is to escape cold temps or just because, making travel plans to fishing (or hunting) destinations is therapeutic at very least and good for your soul at best. Travel is part of the very fabric of outdoor pursuits and the stories traveling generates are among generations of lore. Far-away fishin’ holes are the stuff of legend, dreams, planning and ultimately memories that last forever. We cannot put a price tag on that - we just have to go.
Since its mid-winter and I’m seeking warmth and Vitamin D, possibly combined with a little salty air, my current planning is Florida focused. Being born there, living a large part of my life there and fishing there several times per year these days, Florida is not exotic to me. However, I’ve lived in Colorado for the last 16 years and Florida therefore feels deliciously far from home. The very fact that it is familiar makes traveling there easy; I know the airports, road ways and waters so I can plan quickly depending on my desired experience, time available and budget.
For instance, since it’s wintertime warmth I desire, traveling to the far SW corner of the state is a good plan because central and north Florida, while posting warm afternoon temps, are typically much colder than the southwest region. I only have a small budget and short time window, so I’ll need to fly to a somewhat major airport to save on airfare and stay somewhere close by to avoid excess road time. Sooo, I’ll fly to Fort Meyers during an off time and fish my way south along the coast in a rental hoopdy. Simple. And because I’m not looking for fancy hotels or meals, I can live like a fish bum for a few days and fly home without spending much money while I’m there.
I use the Florida example because it illustrates a key point - your travel need not be exotic or even foreign to you. It need not be expensive or your lifetime dream trip. Your inner-angler will rejoice regardless because you are on a fishing trip and that is plenty good enough!
That last point is key. In my opinion, several inexpensive trips are better for your mojo than a single bank-buster. Don’t get me wrong, an epic trip to say, Brazil to fish for peacock bass for a week would be ridiculously cool, but for the same money I could de-stress for a bunch more days while catching a pile of fish by scheduling several short trips over the course of the year. Geez, I could even target peacock bass, albeit smaller ones, in Miami canals. And in case you’re uninitiated, I could also catch largemouth bass, snook, tarpon and a slew of other weird species the same day, within sight of Miami International Airport. If, like most of us, money or time away is a concern, still plan trips, just shorter ones.
Planning a trip to your old stomping grounds is always fun, usually inexpensive and often surprisingly refreshing. Wherever you fished as a kid, go there. Perhaps go to some place that you can drive to which allows you to bring more tackle and road time to anticipate headed out and reflect headed back. From most regions, a full day’s drive time gets you into entirely new country and fish.
Another option is someplace completely foreign to you, but not necessarily known as a tourist destination or even a hugely popular place to fish. These places are less expensive and I have found that a little research goes a long way. Lesser known coastal towns in Texas, the Carolinas or Georgia come to mind, along with a slew of neat little lakes and rivers around the country.
A bit of advice on the fishing; plan to do some kind of fishing for which you are at least basically equipped knowledge and tackle-wise. For instance, in southwest Florida I’ll fish for snook, seatrout, redfish, etc. - the inshore species. My bass tackle is fine for all of them and a selection of jigs to be tipped with Gulp!, a few spoons, a jerkbait or two and a popper will round out my lures. I’ll watch the tides for turns and peak flows and fish anywhere the opportunity presents itself; inlets, beaches, seawalls, bridges, canals and Intracoastal bays will be sampled. That, in and of itself, is the fun part. I might even rent a kayak for an afternoon. Maybe I’ll catch a giant, maybe I’ll catch a bunch of average fish. Either way, I’ll be on a fishing trip.
Plan a simple trip yourself - no passports, two days’ travel time or bucket list fish. No, just a simple fishin’ trip, perhaps with a buddy, is plenty good to boost your soul.