You all know that I love to travel Nebraska, fish a variety of waters, catch a variety of fish, hopefully big ones, and tell you all about it. Yep, I am going to do that again here, but this time with a little different twist.
In spite of what you may think, I am not traveling the state all the time. Like most folks, much of the time I am working out of the office, at Game & Parks headquarters in Lincoln. Right now, Lincoln is home. I take every opportunity I can to get out of Lincoln, and I love Nebraska from one end to the other, but most of the time I am at home. Now believe me, I fully understand that most of the state’s population lives in eastern Nebraska and much of the state’s water, and some of our best fishing opportunities, are located, well, somewhere out of Lincoln. And believe me, like most anglers, I have a list of hot waters both in Nebraska and out of state that I would like to fish. There is so much water, so many fish, and so little time! But, I have learned that even though I may wish I was fishing some other body of water at a particular time, the best thing a person can do is quit wishing, quit whining and complaining, and well, JUST SHUT UP AND FISH!
I will log, between ice-fishing and open-water, around 70-some or more fishing trips in a year. Honestly, most of those trips are NOT full days spent on the water or on the ice. Most of those trips are a few hours here, a few hours there, whenever I have time, wherever I am at. As a matter of fact, I can tell you from looking at reams of angler data, thousands of angler interviews, the “average” fishing trip is only 3-4 hours. A lot of my fishing trips are “average”–a few hours after work, and often close to home. Does that mean the fishing is “average”, or that I have to “settle” for something less?
In my opinion, NO, not at all!
A few hours fishing in the evening can produce a nice, beautiful flathead catfish:
Or we can slip away on a weekend evening and my son can catch and release a nice bass:
During a busy holiday weekend, in a few hours, the kids and I can capture the beginnings of a mouth-watering meal of frog legs:
Or, and you can ask the administrative assistants (we used to call ’em “secretaries”, but I am told that is not the PC term now) I work with; I can put in a few early morning hours of top-water action in my float tube before wandering into the office, even later than usual. (Sorry, I have no pictures of those fish because I was fishing by myself and wanted to get them released, back in the water ASAP!)
Let me make a point with this. I know a lot of anglers who spend a lot of time “chasing rainbows”. By that, I do not mean they are pursuing rainbow trout. I mean that they spend all their time traveling, trying to chase down the best fishing spots, always following the latest chatter about the hottest bite. In the past I have said I hate “outdoor reports” and from my experience that is a great way to get frustrated, a great way to often hear “you shoulda been here yesterday”! In fact that can get so frustrating that some anglers spend more time complaining about the “bad” fishing instead of doing it!
Now do not misunderstand me, I very much plan my fishing strategies according to what I believe will be the best waters with the best potential to produce the fish I want to catch–usually the waters with potential to produce big fish. I have blogged about my strategies for catching big fish, and I can tell you that I scrutinize our annual fishing forecast. If you want to know where the fish were caught that I just mentioned in this blog post, study that forecast, they are in there! I also understand what the potential is on various waters and temper my expectations accordingly. I will continue to take every opportunity to travel and fish some of the best waters around Nebraska and in other states too.
But. . .
I read something a long time ago. If my memory is right, I am betting it was written by Buck Perry, the father of structure fishing, probably written on the pages of Fishing Facts magazine. The advice was for becoming a better angler, and it was advice to NOT fish a lot of different waters, to NOT chase rainbows. It was suggested that an angler pick a body of water close to home, one that he or she could fish frequently, weekly. A body of water that had some good potential, and then spend a lot of time fishing that body of water! Got a few hours before or after work? Then go fish that home body of water. That suggestion was made because if anglers invest enough time learning a body of water and what it takes to catch fish there, that they can begin to develop their skills and CONFIDENCE. If you want to become a better angler, might I suggest that instead of chasing hot fishing reports, instead of chasing rainbows, choose a body of water close to home where you can catch some good fish and learn to fish it! Spend as much time as possible there. For weekends or holidays, you might also choose one other body of water a little farther from home where you can invest a lot of time.
Am I suggesting that you only ever fish a couple different bodies of water? No! You all know that I fish way more than a couple of bodies of water each year. It is good to experience a variety of waters, variety of habitats, and fish for a variety of species because that develops versatility. But, do not expect that all you have to do to become a good angler, to catch lots of fish and big fish, is to hit the latest, greatest bite according to all the hottest reports. The best way to develop as an angler is to learn how to fish a limited number of waters, to perfect your skills on those waters, to develop confidence, and then expand your horizons. Instead of complaining about the fishing and chasing rainbows, fish harder, spend more time on home waters and learn more.
Try it. I am betting you will discover that the fishing close to home ain’t nearly as poor as you maybe thought it was. I am betting that over time you will find yourself fishing with more confidence, catching more and bigger fish, no matter where you are.
As I finish writing this I am going to complete a couple more office chores and head out the door, out for another adventure somewhere in Nebraska. Who knows what it will be, but I am betting I will have something to tell you about. On the road, or away from home, life, and your outdoor adventures, are what you make of it!