“Mornings are so peaceful in spring“, you think to yourself and the first rays of sunlight begin to trickle through your office curtains. A slight, cool breeze slips through the screen on your window as you sip your steaming black coffee.
The house is quiet. Kids are asleep. So is the misses. Slowly you turn back to the book you are devouring.
The wisdom contained within seems to jump off the pages as you scan the old drawings and think of a time when books were the primary source of information – not the internet. Grandpa told you that there were advantages to these “tomes”, and after reading this far, you can certainly see his point.
Something about the noise of the pages as they turn and the actual weight of the book in your hands seems to activate more of your senses and pull you into the material in a way that the small back-lit screen of your phone could never achieve.
Slowly, carefully you turn another yellowed page, completely mindful of even the slightest sound as the old paper crinkles and folds within your weathered hand –
… flap flap flap HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!
A majestic goose flies overhead, absolutely shattering the peaceful morning that you were savoring just seconds before. In Illinois, these hissing, bulbous, noisy, flying poop-machines are excellent at making their presence all too known.
“Well now it’s a party“, you chuckle to yourself, placing the book upside down on your desk. You missed them last night as they slept, time for morning hugs and then you’ll (attempt to) return to the book later. Maybe after the kids eat and go outside to play. Maybe after work…
“Oh shoot, I need to get through all of this work so I can FISH!“, you quickly open your inbox to take a peek at the situation.
Your heart sinks…
“DADDDDDYYYYYYY!!!!!!!??? I’M UUUPPPP!!!”
78 Unread Messages.
“Well… maybe I’ll fish tomorrow. There’s no way I’ll be able to help with the kids, get all my work done, get the boat cleaned up and ready to go, get my poles rigged, grab gas & bait, call Bill and Tim and see if they want to go, launch the boat… or have enough time to make any progress locating and catching fish.“
“I’ll go tomorrow.”
There it is.
The kiss of death.
Chances are, you won’t go tomorrow. Chances are, something else will pop up. Chances are, you’ll come to the same conclusion: “I’ll go tomorrow.”
It completely takes the wind out of your sails… but maybe it doesn’t have to be this way.
How to (actually) go fishing “tomorrow”
I’ll be honest with you – work is very important, as is faith, and family comes first in all instances. If you are a mother or father, your obligation is to your husband or wife and children first and foremost – but that doesn’t mean we need to completely deny ourselves the opportunity to fish…
We just need to be smarter about it.
2 years ago I came out of a dark period in my personal and professional life, and caught 9 bass (this is actually what started “The Minimalist Fisherman”).
I was ecstatic.
Last year I changed my behaviors even more, and caught 193 bass.
This year, I’m exploring new water close by while testing new presentations, trying to further refine my behaviors so that I can catch 250 bass.
It’s working, and it can work for you too.
Even if you are busy. Even if you are self-employed. Even if your family needs a lot from you – it can work.
Fishing from shore is the answer. It’s the real-world solution that many of us have (mistakenly) turned away from in favor of “my big boat on my big lake or my big river fishing with big baits for the big boys!”
This type of fishing takes big time – and on a weekly basis, chances are we don’t have that. What we do have, is 45 minutes to stop on the way to a job site, 60 minutes after work if we’re able to cut out early before we make it home for dinner, 90 minutes in the evening after we’ve helped with the dishes (see what I did there, ladies?) to fish that small city lake with the playground next to it that the kids can use.
We all have limited time… but we still have time.
Do you want to cut into that time dunking your boat and getting electronics working and poles rigged as you float around by the launch? By the time you’re done I’ve caught 4 fish and I’m just carrying a backpack and a single rod.
There is a time and place for boat fishing – and it is awesome – but if you are ready to realistically catch more fish every week, embrace bank fishing and carefully apply your time.
Do what you can with what you’ve got.
You will make more casts and catch more fish – I promise you.
The Advantages of Fishing From Shore
- Fishing from shore is the easiest way to get up and go if you have limited fishing time.
- It can make fishing trips less stressful, requiring less research & planning.
- Fishing from shore also requires less gear. No need to worry about a spare for the trailer. Life jackets. An emergency paddle. Did I charge the batteries? Do we have gas? Will the motor start? Do the lights on the trailer work? Do I have all of my rods, bait and tackle? It also means you won’t slip and fall on your butt on the slippery boat ramp first thing in the morning… not that I’ve ever done that… several times…
- It allows you to fish smaller bodies of water, either because of motor-restrictions or lack of access. This means more options, plus the chance to find fish that are not heavily pressured.
- Fishing from shore allows you to fish at any speed without worrying about boat control. You can fish fast. You can fish slow. You can work an area over once you contact fish, and you can focus on making accurate casts because if there are fish here – they are right in front of you. Simply focus on catching fish.
- If you tread lightly, you have a chance to catch bass that are using the absolute shallowest shoreline, backed into inches of water. You can make long parallel casts with the bank, which can put your bait(s) in the strike zone longer. If you see a fish, cast well past him and bring your bait up slowly and naturally so you don’t spook ’em.
WARNING: be mindful that you are not clomping along or you will spook shallow bass and see them jet out from shore before you get a chance to cast to them! Tread lightly, and don’t forget to stand back at first and fish your OWN BANK before launching a bait across narrow areas. Don’t walk right up to the edge and start bombing away – be deliberate with your positioning and movements – you’ll catch more fish.
- If you do some searching for honey holes, you can potentially find areas of complete solitude. While fishing city lakes can be fun and rewarding, in my humble opinion it is much better to fish surrounded by the sounds of nature as opposed to fishing while Bill mows his lawn and Timmy weed-whacks the entire ditch in front of his house. If you are fishing a city lake, you can look for areas that are hard to get into and find fish that are not hammered by every bank fisherman working the obvious spots.
- Get away from electronics. Enjoy “fishing the old fashioned way“.
Trust me – it’s fun.
Bonus: fishing from shore is also good exercise and a way to burn extra calories. Let’s be real here… if we’re frying up fish and having a few brewskies, this doesn’t hurt!
The Disadvantages of Fishing from Shore
Nothing is magic. There are always pros and cons in every situation… so here are a few to consider.
- If the fish are deep and far out from shore – which is an issue with large shallow flats – you may not have access to them.
- If the shoreline weed growth is too thick, you may have very limited presentation options. It may also be extremely difficult to fish the outside weed edge, and fish will often hold here waiting to ambush prey.
- You can only fish as far as you can hike, bike or walk.
- You can only take what you can carry.
- If the bugs are thick, you will get chewed up. If spiders, snakes and other animals are present (and they probably are) keep your wits about you.
- If you get hurt or twist an ankle or cut yourself out in the thick of it, you have to be able to take care of yourself. Don’t put yourself in a position you can’t get out of if you have an accident.
Trust me – it will happen.
So… which will you choose?
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
I think so… but I don’t think that’s the right question to be asking.
It’s not really a question of “which is better?“, it’s more of a question of “what do I have time for?” Life is busy. Running a business, working long hours, supporting a family and being a good spouse – these are massive responsibilities!
There is a time and a place for fishing from a boat, a time and a place for fishing from a kayak, or wading a creek.
There is also a time and place from fishing from the bank.
Add fishing from shore to your repertoire. You will find yourself making more casts, testing more presentations, learning more about your area and catching more fish.
It sure worked for me…