- By: Greg Thomas
What gets to me more than anything is life getting in the way of fishing.
Take last year. Many would say I had a stellar term, getting to throw for bones and sharks in the Bahamas, pike and lake trout in the Yukon Territory, and big Atlantic salmon in Quebec. But I look at it from a different perspective: I used to fish 200 days a year, and now I’m often desk-bound on deadline or racing my daughters from school to swimming or swimming to school or hosting their play-dates or throwing the competitive extravaganzas that kids’ birthday parties have become. This year a limousine, rented at $150 an hour, was part of that equation.
So where does that leave me at the start of a new year? Figuring out how to get more time on the water. And, I suspect, you may be thinking the same way. So, are we just going to consider the options or are we going to do something about it?
I’m doing something about it. Here’s how it’s going to work. First, I realize there’s always something more important or pressing (at least by common social perspective) that comes up when we’re trying to get on the water, especially when it’s a local option. Each week this year, I’m setting a day (Wednesday or Thursday) for fishing local waters near my home in Missoula, Montana. These are the world-class trout streams—such as the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Rock Creek, Clark Fork, Big Hole, even the Missouri—that rest as little as five minutes and no farther than a couple hours from my front door. I’ve neglected them in recent years by acquiescing too often, saying, “Oh, sure, I can help. I don’t have to fish today, I’ll fish tomorrow or the next.” And you know what that leads to—the same statement the next time around. This year, this is my reply: “Sorry, I’m on the water.” If you or I can claim that day as our own we’ll spend at least 48 days on the water this year. Which is a good start.
Another way to build fishing into your calendar is to consider the hours most of us don’t fish—after dark. It’s common knowledge that a river’s biggest fish feed mostly at night, and that’s also when the kids don’t need to be entertained (nor, most times I’m afraid, do our significant others). Those are your hours, and if you heed Warren Zevon’s words, there’s plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead. Franklin got away with two to four hours a night. Da Vinci 1½ to two. Tesla three. This year, a few times at least, I’m laying off the late dinners and cocktails and strapping on a headlamp. The bonus is this: Most rivers are overrun with anglers during the warm summer months, but at night you can have every riffle, pool or run you choose.
Lastly in my fish-more equation are extended trips. But extended trips come with a warning: Between prepping for a seven-day trip, then unpacking and recovering from your time away, fishing for five days and traveling for two can wipe a few weeks off your angling calendar. Still, who shouldn’t take a week of vacation each year to fish somewhere exotic? Alaska must be on many of your lifetime lists, the Caribbean, Patagonia, Russia and New Zealand, too. Dream big, but don’t get anxious or even depressed if you just can’t pull it off—we all have compelling local options, some familiar and some overlooked, and by focusing on those we’ll all get the days on the water we deserve.