The infamous island bum Jimmy Buffet is most known for his margarita mindset, but his most telling line in my eyes is from Mother Ocean and reads, “I’ve gotta stop wishin’, I’ve gotta go fishin’.” How appropriate is that in your world?
Based on comments I’ve received from gillions of folks over the 15 years I’ve been a professional angler, it’s all too appropriate, and in my professional opinion, that’s no good.
Due to traveling daily in the logo’d up Fishful Thinker Tundra, I’m approached by many anglers in my travels, some more serious than others. A common sentiment is “it’s finally summer now, I need to go fish”, or “I love to fish but haven’t had time lately”. To that I say, "Hooey."
If you like to fish at all, even just a little, you should make time to get yourself to the water, any water, and invest in a little “me time”. Fishing, even in its most basic form, is therapeutic in a way that few pastimes are. It’s simple, peaceful, and only as vigorous as you want it to be. Want a little exercise along with your therapy? Fine, pick a place you need to walk to. Want to just relax and hope for bite? Great, go to a spot you can back the truck up to and commence to chillin’ while you wait for a bite. The best part is that fishing success can also be defined however you’d like, meaning the possibility of a successful outing is high. In my mind, the definition of a successful outing depends entirely on who, if anyone, I’m fishing with, what my goals may be, or just that I want to come off the water happier. In that specific goal, I basically always succeed.
Living within the distribution range of this publication means you have access to all kinds of waters to fish, and many of them are likely within a nice walk/bike/short drive of your burg, I’d bet. You may tackle species ranging from bluegills to stocker trout, and you can pursue them on waters ranging from scenic rivers to boggy ponds. Minimal equipment is required, and with little or no preparation, the prospect of catching fish is still reasonable, especially in smaller ponds and streams. For the best therapy, go it alone. Giggle solo with the fish, and for the most giggles, celebrate every fish you catch regardless of size, species or whatever.
If you’re a nine-to-fiver, hitting a local pond for an hour after work is a great way to unwind. Coming home with a grin, slightly dirty, and smelling like sunfish sure beats marching through the door with work woes on your mind. Call it a fishy FAC. If you’re a driver of some sort, keep your eyes peeled for a likely pond in your travels, and then fish it up while snacking on your lunch hour. Get some fresh air and connect with nature, even if it’s only for a bit. Surely that’s better than sitting under the fluorescent lights of a Burgerama.
A slightly more ambitious but still simple outing is a short day-trip to a slightly outlying area. In the west, it’s usually plenty of smallish yet willing trout that will greet you, and the scenery and solitude to make life better in the most basic way. If you really want to clear your mind, follow the river as it winds away from the road. Flowing water is good for the soul. Oh, you live back east or possibly in the south? No problem. A panfish and pond will fit the bill nicely. The key is keeping it simple for these particular types of outings.
What I’m basically talking about is “opportunity fishing”; fishing at any easy opportunity rather than focusing your efforts only on more exotic outings with a higher (perceived) chance at success.
In practicing what I preach, I carry a medium-light power, two-piece Abu Garcia Veritas rod paired with size 20 Revo X spinning reel spooled with Berkley 10# X9 braid in my Tundra. I have a small spool each of 6# and 10# Trilene XT which I can attach as an appropriately-sized leader for my lure, or I can tie direct to the braid if conditions and lure choice allow. For lures, I carry a small box with a couple of small marabou jigs, a couple of 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4 oz jigheads, a couple 3” Power Grubs, Minnows and 2.5” tubes, a Cutter 90+ Jerkbait, a Warpig lipless crankbait, a #60 BulletPop popper and a #14 soft hackle wet fly, which I will trail behind the popper or jerkbait. I also have a pair of needle-nose pliers. Armed thusly, I’ll at least be in the ballpark to catch most freshwater species.
Life is too short and hectic to while it away with work and “too busy”. Toss a rod-n-reel and some very basic tackle in your car and be ready and willing to fish wherever you can in your daily travels. Better yet, make a commitment to steal a bit of fishing time from whatever bad vice you may have. Get out, relax, and observe nature and maybe catch a fish or two. Ultimately, you’ll probably be more productive and certainly less stressed when you get back at it. Sooo, stop wishin’, just go fishin’!