Fin (the end)

Deciding when to go fishing can be a complex issue. The conditions when fish may be biting best are considered along with other important issues such as safe weather. And your job. But if we waited until everything was perfect, we’d never get on the water. So off we go on our aquatic quest. Then there is perhaps an even greater dilemma: when to end the fishing trip.

As a youngster, I learned the longer there were minnows in the bucket for Dad, the longer I would get to fish. I would quietly start casting lures, trying to figure out a pattern, amid my own private fishing tournament up against the formidable foe, live bait. Until the minnows were gone.

When does your fishing trip end?

A. too cold?

B. too hot?

C. mosquitoes?

D. low trolling motor batteries or fuel?

E. hungry?

F. caught enough fish for dinner?

G. tired arms?

H. kids are bored?

I. phone call/family obligations?

J. “you’ll have to drag me off this boat.”

As a bachelor, dark was what ended most of my fishing trips, but even then if the bite was good enough or I remembered a flashlight, I’d continue, sometimes foolishly. I recall racing down a mountain trail with my fly rod in Colorado trying to beat total darkness and almost running into an elk. I’ve fished until I could no longer feel my fingers and toes in Michigan; casted just a few more times with an approaching thunderstorm in Oklahoma; and fished on the way back to the boat ramp, even though my 7-month pregnant wife said she was done.

I’ll let you decide which was the most extreme fishing.

Mark Zona, host of Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show used to let dark end a trip too. Now, family commitments set the duration of a recreational fishing trip. Like the old showbiz saying, “always leave the kids, and the fish, wanting more.”

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Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson

Debbie Hanson is an award-winning outdoor writer, women’s sport fishing advocate, IGFA world record holder, and freshwater guide living in Southwest Florida. Hanson’s written work has appeared in publications such as Florida Game & Fish Magazine, BoatUS Magazine, and USA Today Hunt & Fish. To learn more about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @shefishes2.