Tap… tap tap tap… tap tap tap TAPTAPTAPTAP…
My leg is about to bounce right through this desk.
Sitting here in the office, cold wind blowing hard outside the window. Thinking about my mess. Thinking about shortcomings… but hopeful about changes that will materialize this fishing season.
As you can see from these recent photos, the garage is not minimized in any sense of the word – not even close to “fishin’ ready.”
This is a problem – but it’s also ok – because minimizing is a process, not a destination. I fail constantly, and the good news is that it’s never too late to get back on the horse.
So today… well.. we’re getting back on the dang horse. It’s time to set some goals and make a plan for the season!
What Fishing Goals Are You Working Towards This Year?
If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.
Let talk about the importance of setting goals… that almost got weird.
Goals are necessary if you want to grow in any area. I don’t care if it’s business, health, or fishing – you need to set goals and track your progress or you’ll always be guessing whether you’re moving forward, or just treading water. Goals give you something to shoot for, and tracking lets you see how far you’ve progressed.
I have 8 big, aggressive goals for the year. Do any of these sound like something you want for yourself? Then steal them. Several. Work towards ’em. Let me know how it goes!
Do any of the goals below sound like things that YOU want?
Goal #1: Build New Rods the are Technique-Specific
Last year, one of the things that I really started to notice was the difference in feel and action when certain rods & reels were paired with certain line types and techniques.
Like most skills, this is simply the result of time. Experience. Getting in your reps. The longer you work at something, the more you start to notice the nuances that you missed when you were starting out. I know that building a few rods tailored to the way that I now fish will make a big difference.
It's been about 2 years since I worked on a rod build, and I miss the process. The last project was actually a rod repair... but this year, I want a custom ultralight rod for micro-swimbaits, a beefy spinning rod for jerkbaiting & jigging creek smallmouth, and a big 'ol beefcake for largemouth bass in the muck.
Better start buildin'!
Goal #2: Post 50 Fishing Videos
There are two YouTube channels I'm working on: The Minimalist Fisherman (3,100 subs / focuses on projects like the one above, bait reviews & fishing strategies) and Stars & Bars Fishing (85 subs / a straight up in-the-field fishing vlog that tests the techniques & concepts discussed here).
I'd like to get the channels to 5,000 and 500 subs respectively, however - I can't control the results. I can only control my effort and output. This year, that output will increase as behaviors are refined. Hopefully the results will follow. If you've ever subbed or shared, thank you very much for the assist! Latest video just went live yesterday...
Goal #3: Find New, REMOTE Fishing Areas!
As much as I love fishing city lakes... it just isn't the same as hiking in a creek all by yourself (like in the video above) or navigating the steep, winding shoreline of an old, clear quarry lake. I have a few new spots marked on the map to explore, quite a ways off the beaten path. This should mean less pressured fish that are more willing to bite, better scenery... plus, it's just way easier to have a conversation with God when you aren't surrounded by the majestic sound of lawnmowers...
Are suburban lakes cool? Absolutely... but c'mon man... compare that scenery & ambiance to this...
This is the goal and it's going to happen - even though finding new fishing locations in Illinois can be challenging. (Not that long ago I was told to leave or enjoy some lead poisoning by a landowner.) Our slogan is "Welcome to Illinois: The Land of Lincoln", but it should be...
Welcome to Illinois
"Get off my Lawn!"
Goal #4: Post 125 Fishing Articles
I love writing, and the feedback, questions and stories that all of you email me after something here speaks to you. Thanks for getting in touch! This year I plan to write more, engage with you more, and be a better source of information & entertainment while I continue to learn myself. If you've ever come across anything helpful here, please share it with a friend and let me know!
Goal #5: Write Guest Posts for 3 Other Websites
It would be really awesome if the work I did here opened a few doors to new opportunities, and I was able to contribute to a few other fishing websites and spark some valuable conversations. I'm not sure how to go about making this happen... so the plan is simply to continue to work as hard as possible, here, to be ready for any opportunity that comes along.
Better to prepare ahead of time, than scramble and react.
Goal #6: Catch Over 400 Bass
Last year I ended up with 337. The year before that, 389. The year before that, 193... but the year before that??
Yes, I keep a spreadsheet and log everything.
This project, "The Minimalist Fisherman", was started in 2019. At that time, I had only ever caught smallmouth bass in Wisconsin, and I had never really targeted the largemouth bass of Illinois. Didn't even think we had much in the way of fishing in this state. Sure I fished the pits as a kid, spent many morning and afternoons sneaking into the rock quarries after trudging through the timber and along the railroad tracks - but the bite was always super-tough. Dinks. Maybe some bluegill. A tiny channel catfish here & there. I made the mistake of assuming that the bass weren't around, at least not like they were in the other states nearby...
The bass is always greener on the other side.
In 2019, after becoming a father for the third time, I decided it was time to give it another shot. Much to my surprise - I started to find a few spots that held quality largemouth bass, and soon realized the problem was not my surroundings, the problem was me.
My assumptions. My approach. My clutter.
And so the count went from zero... to 9... to just under 400... but we have yet to break that mark.
This year... we crush it... it's my last full season in Illinois, after all...
Goal #7: Get the House Listed FOR SALE
Mentioned this last year when I started the Stars & Bars Fishing channel - my time in Illinois is coming to a close. We're moving to Arkansas. The listing date is set for early next year. My folks are close to retirement, and they already have a place near Bull Shoals. I've been there to fish it. It's incredible, and The White River looks amazing as well! I've marked creeks and other nearby rivers that anglers and guides are known to wade... it's flippin' ON.
This will be much, much different than what I am used to fishing. BIG water. DEEP water. WARM winters. Crazy! So this needs to be my best year fishing in Illinois, because it will be my last... it's a bit scary after living here my entire life, but I am so excited to move south, fish new waters, explore new areas and meet new people.
For that to happen, this house needs to be finished up, completely prepped & listed "FOR SALE" in what will probably be a terrible housing market.
... 'gonna be a busy year...
Goal #8: The Most Important Goal of All...
As important as all of the first 7 goals are, the most important goal is this:
Be a better husband. Be a better father. Be a better servant.
This comes first, and everything else must follow.
While I plan to work hard this year to improve as a fisherman, obtain new knowledge and experience and then share it with my family - to put them on better fish, so they can create new memories - that all comes after being better here at home.
So, to all my fellow dads out there - let's keep this in mind:
Fishing is fun. Fishing is a passion. An obsession. Maybe a hobby. It's challenging. It's calming. It's stressful. It's peaceful.
Fishing is MANY things... but it's not the most IMPORTANT thing...
Let's go have one hell of a year.
Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.
Thank you Readers!
Thanks for visiting! I’m going to keep doing everything possible to keep the helpful content coming, and FREE FOR EVERYONE… but I need your help. Please chip in by making a small monthly contribution to keep this site alive & growing. $4.96 will buy a sweet Pack ‘o Dingers, and with it, I promise to catch many bass in your honor. Thanks. You are a gentleman & a scholar! -AJ
Stars & Bars Fishing is a video log dedicated to catching fish with the techniques we write about. All Episodes >
The Minimalist Fisherman channel focuses on bait reviews, strategies & projects. See More Fishing Videos>
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