Planning Your Next Fishing Vacation
There have been many articles published in numerous outdoor publications about choosing a good hunting guide. Deciding on an article to write for an issue of this publication I began to feel sorry for the anglers out there. As writers, we have failed to help anglers choose where would be a good place to take a nice fishing trip. I want to help.
Throughout my adult life I have been able to travel along with my family on fishing vacations throughout the Midwestern states. Many of my experiences with our outings were exceptional, others were a disgrace. Finding the right resort for your needs, as well as for the needs of your traveling companions (wife and children in my case), is not a hard task. All it takes is some research on your part. It is much like finding a good hunting guide. I have put on paper some advice that I hope will allow you to have a good fishing trip (vacation) the next time you hit the road.
The first place I look to begin searching is in publications such as this one. Many reputable fishing lodges and guides advertise throughout these pages. Give them a call and ask for them to send you a brochure, or if they have a web site check it out. All this will do is to give you an idea of what they have to offer. Do not base your decision on this information alone. When in contact with the lodge owners and guides ask for references. If they do not have any, or do not want to give them out cross them off your list immediately. Also look at their photos. If they seem outdated that should make you wonder, why they have not given recent photos.
When looking for a lodge/guide you must first know what species of fish you are after. If you after a big musky you do not want to go to a body of water that has exceptional bass fishing, but the last keeper musky was caught five years ago. The same holds true with hiring a guide. Do not hire a guide who is not experienced with the fishing you want to do. You will be disappointed, and a lot of money will be wasted.
After you have weeded out the bad from what you are think are the good lodges/guides get on the phone and give the references you have been provided with a call. Ask them what they thought of the operation. Did it live up to their expectations? Were there activities in the area for non-fishing members of the group if there were any? Was the resort clean and the owners/guides professional? This is just a sample of some questions you might want to ask. You will probably have some of your own to ask. Remember that just because a lot of fish or big fish were not caught does not mean it was not a good experience. There are a lot of things that make up a good trip, not just the number of fish put in the boat many factors can lead to not catching fish with the weather being the number one offender.
One thing that must be considered when considering any trip is the cost involved. Ask the lodge owner if any packages are available. Many places offer discounts during their off season when many people are not traveling. This is something to look into. Also make sure you know if they charge by the person or the room. Also ask of any hidden costs such as bait, boat rental fee if you do not have a boat and boat docking and launching fees. You will want to know of these in advance so you can plan accordingly.
Another good thing to know is what time of the year is best for where you want to go. Nobody will know better than the locals who fish these waters on a regular basis. Again, the lodge might be able to work with you to get you a trip booked at a discount when other people are not taking vacations and the boat traffic is at a minimum on the water.
Fishing on unfamiliar water can be frustrating. It might take the entire trip to learn the lay of the water, and when you finally do it is time to head home. This is when a guide comes in handy. Ask the lodge if they have guides on their staff or if they can recommend a good one. Several years ago, when I first started fishing the Rainy River near Baudette, Minnesota, I hired a local fishing guide for a day. That one day in his boat taught me more about that body of water and the methods to catch fish on it than what I could have learnt in several years by myself and I am still able to use that knowledge to catch big fish every year.
One other thing you might want to ask is how close you will be to town. This might not be important to you, but if you need a last-minute item, it is good to know how far you will have to drive. Some lodges even have a store on the premises that you get that hot lure that is catching all the fish that you do not have in your tackle box.
Finding out what to bring is important. Do not assume that the lodge provides linens, towels, pots and pans, and utensils. These places are not the Holiday Inn, they are fishing cottages. It is important to make a list of what you need and check it off as it is packed away in your vehicle. That way you will reduce the amount of stuff you leave at home.
As with anything else in life ignorance of the law is not a defense. It is your responsibility to know the fishing regulations (size and possession limits) of where you will be fishing and to have the proper licenses. In today’s world it is not hard to get on the computer and download fishing regulations and even buy and print your fishing license before you ever head out the door.
Following the simple advice, I have given you planning a trip should not be difficult. What you learn from planning one trip will help considerably when planning your next. Keep track of what you need (but did not bring) and add that to your list. There might have been some things you brought along but only took up unneeded room. These things can be scratched off your list. Do not get stressed, make your plans in advance make the calls till you are satisfied you have made the right decisions for yourself and the people who will be traveling with you. Now all that is left to do is have an enjoyable time.