It’s always fun to branch out from your home waters and plan a fishing trip to somewhere new, especially if you take a new angling partner along with you. Here are a handful of great fishing hot spots that are worth checking out. Of course, the locals (and some traveling anglers) appreciate the fishing action to be found in these places. With a little research, planning, and maybe a visit to a local tackle store—after all, the licenses you buy fuel important efforts to maintain and enhance these fisheries—you can find yourself right in the thick of things this fishing season.
Lee's Ferry, Arizona Sometimes the fishing is about the fish, and sometimes it’s about the stunning environment you find yourself in. At Lees Ferry in remote northern Arizona it’s about both. This is where Grand Canyon rafters put in, and anglers jet boat upstream in Marble Canyon to fish for trout. There are more rainbow trout per mile here than almost anywhere else in the country. Of course, lake fishers can also chase various bass species in nearby Lake Powell, above the Glen Canyon Dam.
The Driftless Area, Southwestern Wisconsin Wisconsin has more great fishing opportunities than you can (literally) shake a stick at. While most of the attention naturally revolves around the storied musky and smallmouth bass waters “up north,” as well as the diverse fishery on Lake Michigan, the Driftless Area offers some of the best “classic” fly fishing waters in the country. You can catch nice brown trout in meadow streams here. But it’s a technical environment that demands matching the hatch, accurate casts, and flawless fly presentations.
The Florida Panhandle While much of the fishing focus in the Sunshine State is rightfully placed on the Keys, the Everglades, and its myriad interior bass lakes, the Panhandle region offers great opportunities, both offshore and inshore. It’s one of the best sea trout fishing regions in the country, and you’re also apt to chance upon schools of redfish near the shoreline. The big show, however, happens in late spring and early summer, when schools of migrating tarpon roll through the area. You can get a shot at a 100-plus pound silver king (many actually) not far off the beach.
Lake McConaughy, Nebraska McConaughy is a walleye angler’s paradise, offering a wide range of options for catching these cagey fish—from trolling, to jigging, to throwing crankbaits from its 100 miles of shoreline. While the lake is well known for producing large fish, its relative isolation from the big cities (it’s in the western part of the state), and sheer size give anglers plenty of chances to spread out and fish. Spring is prime time. Make sure you bring a cooler, because you’ll want to take some of your catch home for dinner.
Bonefish Flats, Oahu, Hawaii There’s a good chance that the next world record bonefish will be caught on the flats off Oahu, maybe even right in the shadows of Diamond Head. These bones are large on average, though they tend to school in slightly deeper water than the flats-cruisers to be found in southern Florida. So they’re best caught from a boat, or a stand-up paddleboard (naturally). If ever you plan that Hawaiian dream vacation, be sure to pack a fishing rod. There are even bass (peacocks and largemouth) to be caught in the island’s freshwater lakes. And the offshore bluewater fishing is legendary.
It’s that time of year when we’re all excited and ready to drop our boats in the water. Most of you have a checklist for getting your boat prepared for the season. If not, you can find some general tips here.
Boating safety is important on and off the water. To protect your boat investment, you need to be sure your boat trailer is in proper condition at the start of the year. Here are five important things to check to make sure your boating season gets off to a good start.
In most cases, you can knock off this checklist in an hour or so. And that’s time well spent.
If you’re fascinated with the newest product innovations and have to have the latest and greatest fishing tackle and marine gadgets, 2012 will not disappoint you in the least. We’re seeing more bright ideas transposed into functional watercraft, gear and gizmos than ever before. The Miami International Boat Show & Strictly Sail, hosted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), has long been the “coming out party” for new watercraft, engines and related products. This year, members of Boating Writers International (BWI) voted on the best new innovations at the show. Here are a few of the products they picked.
For more details and a list of all the innovation award winners from the Miami Boat Show, click here.
On the fishing side, dealers saw new products introduced last year at the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) trade show. Many of these products are just now starting to show up in tackle stores.
For fly-fishing, one new fly rod—appropriately called “One”—from Sage, received top honors (as voted on by fly tackle retailers at the International Fly Tackle Dealers Expo) in both the freshwater and saltwater fishing categories. “One” uses new graphite technology to create a slimmer profile and noticeably lighter fly rod.
In sum, there’s no shortage of new ideas and products—covering a wide range of prices—that will make their way to marinas and tackle stories throughout the country this year. Whether you’re in the market or not, and regardless of your budget, you’ll want to check them out.
Kayaks are booming in popularity among anglers with good reason. They’re light, and easy to steer. They’re super-stealthy for sneaking up on fish. And they’re easy to transport. Best of all, many kayak companies are tricking out boats with special features specifically for fishing, like rod holders, electronics, pedal-propulsion, and stabilizers that allow you to stand up and fish.
There’s also just something about the connection you feel with the water when you fish from a kayak. Maybe that’s why one of my favorite trips ever was a five-day camping and paddling Florida fishing adventure in the Everglades with my friend Al Keller.
We went out of Chokoloskee, near Everglades City, where we rented kayaks from Captain Charles Wright. The first step in an adventure like this is to make a camping plan—you either choose a central base camp, or you paddle along the entire length of the 10,000 Islands, which can take a week or more. Depending on the season, you can choose to paddle along the outside where small keys and mangrove-lined channels meet the open Gulf of Mexico, or in the backcountry, where you camp on “chickee” platforms. The important thing is to register and reserve your campsite with the Everglades National Park office.
We chose to camp on one island on the outside, and had Captain Wright drop us off, along with our kayaks, tents, cooler and other gear. Once we’d unloaded, it was “see you at the end of the week,” and we were literally on our own. So we got right into the fishing, and found snook cruising up a little channel within a stone’s throw of our campsite. It only took Al a few casts with a fly rod to hook a small snook on a white Clouser Minnow fly. After that, we found redfish. Then we went into the creeks and caught baby tarpon. Every day was a completely different adventure.
Thing is, when you’re out in a pristine place like that, you lose yourself to your surroundings. Half the time, I didn’t know whether to cast or just watch what was going on. Flocks of ibis… raccoons digging oyster shells from the muck… further inside, alligators lurking in the root wads… As we paddled across one bay, I counted no fewer than 25 sharks cruising along, a few of which actually brushed up against my boat. But I was never afraid. Just awe struck.
If ever you want a challenging backcountry adventure, this is a great one to consider. Of course, you need to be smart out there. Know how to deal with bugs, and heat. (Choosing the right season is key). Have a reliable GPS, plenty of water, and a good first aid kit. And be wary that falling tides can leave you and your boat stuck in the mud for hours.
But the rewards are remarkable, and you’ll see and experience things you can’t find without fishing far off the beaten path.
Kirk Deeter is an editor-at-large with Field & Stream magazine, and the editor-in-chief of Angling Trade. He is the co-author of four books, most recently the Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. He also blogs at Takemefishing.org.
©2013 RBFF. All Rights Reserved