QUICK GUIDE TO PLANNING A FISHING TRIP
Many variables must be considered throughout the organisation of a fishing outing. In a time-pressed society, it’s always handy to have a clear set of procedures to follow so that no important aspects are overlooked and no critical gear is left behind.
Below is a simple flowchart to get you into the right frame of mind when you are planning a fishing adventure. Whether you’re a frequent fisher, or it’s been a while between drinks, each step is described in detail so that you’ll always hit the water ready to catch fish.
The first 3 steps are interchangeable and may be prioritised based on circumstance. For time pressed anglers the time and date will be the foremost priority and the destination and target species will be subsequent decisions. Holiday anglers will be limited by destination, while other fishers will choose to tailor their decisions around a particular target species.
Prioritise your fishing aims and then modify the other aspects to best suit your goals or limitations.
STEP 1. TIME AND DATE: WHEN TO FISH
Selecting a time and date to go fishing is an important decision. Fishing on the correct tides, time of day, or in the perfect weather conditions can have a huge impact on the fishing result. For example, many freshwater species bite well during high barometric pressure, or many pelagic species are aggressive during big tides and strong currents.
If you have the flexibility, choose the time, date and weather conditions to best suit your particular destination or target species.
The reality is that many of us have limited time for fishing activities and are at the mercy of work and family commitments. Nevertheless, when an opening for a fishing outing does arise, try to choose a destination or target species that will heighten your chance of success.
STEP 2. DESTINATION: WHERE TO FISH
Sometimes a specific destination is appealing for a fishing adventure. On other occasions, a family holiday may limit your fishing to a particular location. In both cases, the target species and fishing times will need to be adapted to the destination.
Always do your homework on any potential fishing destination. Find out what type of habitat and fishing options are available. Identify which species are likely to be present and what time and conditions are best to target them. Check your access points and timing carefully and utilise Google Earth and Google Maps to refine your navigation.
STEP 3. TARGET SPECIES: WHAT TO FISH
Many anglers hit the water with a clear plan to target a specific fish species. They then choose the best location and time to enhance their chances of catching that particular species. This requires research and knowledge on target fish in order to identify the best areas and conditions to target them. Most importantly, this approach requires flexibility with time and an ability to travel to ensure that you are fishing under the best conditions possible for the target species.
STEP 4. EQUIPMENT
Once you’ve worked out when, where and what you’re fishing for, you need to start thinking about the most appropriate equipment. There’s no point lugging a boat up the coast if you’ll be fishing tiny freshwater streams on foot. Nor is there any point packing a bream rod to chase huge pelagics offshore. Think carefully about the necessary equipment and only take essential items.
Ensure that you select the most suitable rod, reel, line, bait and lures for the target species. If you’re likely to encounter more than one species, try to choose outfits that cover multiple applications where possible. For example, you can easily target both Mangrove Jack and Barramundi on a single 5-8 kg baitcaster outfit. Spinning outfits are particularly handy because you can easily switch from bait fishing to lure fishing and vice versa.
Prepare and rig your outfits the night before a fishing trip so that you’ll be ready to hit the water running. Refrain from tying on lures or hooks to prevent them from catching on gear during transport – just loop the loose line to a guide.
Ensure that you have spare tackle and any accessories such as lip-grips, pliers or a net.
Place all of the required fishing gear in a distinct place so that you can easily cross-check for missing items.
Run through your boating, canoe and kayak equipment a day or two before a trip. If you discover any issues, there will be time to fix them. Check that you have life jackets for all passengers, a trailer winch handle and a spare trailer tyre. Ensure that batteries are charged, the fuel tank is sufficiently full, the trailer tyres are inflated and test run the electric motor.
There’s nothing worse than travelling a long distance on fishing trip to discover something is amiss with a boat. Pre-trip boat inspections are critical.
Video and still camera equipment is an essential item for the majority of modern anglers. Cameras provide a means to capture remarkable fishing moments to share with others and have evidence of your escapades.
Pack camera equipment into a suitable protective case. Ensure that memory cards are cleared and that batteries are charged. If you’re zipping off on an extended trip, be sure to take the chargers with you.
Keep in mind that the day that you forget your camera, is the day that something spectacular will occur.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES
Ensure that you have an adequate supply of food and beverages for the length of trip or that you have access to a local supermarket for replenishment.
Pack neat and easy snacks to carry on hiking trips or to minimise rubbish, clutter and the chance of spillage on boats. For boating trips, keep an esky packed with ice for refreshing beverages and use neoprene stubby coolers for added insulation and stability.
STEP 5. LOGISTICS AND WEATHER
Now that you have a destination, time, fishing plan, and all of your equipment organised you just need to finalise the logistics of how you are getting to the waterway, where you are launching the watercraft, and run a final weather check.
Often it’s hard to make a final call on the weather until the very last minute. Although the weather outlook must be considered throughout the entire planning process, this is usually the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place.
Some fishing options will be less weather dependent than others. For example, a 30-knot wind won’t affect fishing in a rainforest stream, however, it will virtually end your chance of heading offshore. Try to have a contingency plan in place if the weather looks unfavourable or if there is limited flexibility to reschedule the trip.
PUT YOUR PLAN INTO ACTION
The weather looks sensational, everyone is pumped and it’s time for you to put all of your meticulous planning into action. Pack the car, set the alarm and get a good night’s rest. Tomorrow you’re going fishing.
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