Updated: May 19, 2020
As the saying goes hindsight is 20/20. As I think back to my first real fishing trip or to other trips I have taken there are a few key things I wish I knew ahead of time. Some would have improved my comfort, some would have increased my catch rate and one would have saved my hands.
1) Pack For 3 Seasons
I will never forget my first “real” fishing trip. My Dad, brother and I booked a 4-night stay with Ellen Island Lodge on Lady Evelyn Lake. When we left the GTA it was a balmy 18 degrees and I was in shorts and a t shirt. We stopped in North Bay for the night and while it was a bit cooler it was fine. By day 3 of our trip we woke to +1 degree weather and by the afternoon it was snowing on us. My clothing was inadequate to say the least. When the snow rolled in I swear I had 75% of the clothing I brought for the trip on and I was still freezing. Even though we general do our trips in August I now pack gear to cover “3 seasons”. This includes a good rain suit, wool beanie and socks, waterproof boots and a heavy polyester hoodie. On most if not all our trips there has been at least 1 day that I am thankful I have all this gear. When you spend 8 – 10 hours in the boat and its cold and wet there is nothing worse than cold feet! Cold Weather Gear I'd Recommend
2) Double Up on Your Favorite Lures
I created a post about my top 5 lures Walleye Lures Top 5 Lures on a Northern Lake. I am pretty confident that w just these 5 lure types I can catch walleye any time of year. These are my confidence baits and like most I have favorite colours. On our Ogoki Lake trip Colin was slaying them on a Gold and Black Hot N Tot when disaster struck. He snagged on a rock and before his driver (fully capable fellow who was in no way responsible for the loss) could turn the boat around it was donated to the Lake Gods. The saddest part was that he didn’t have a back up. He had other Hot N Tots and sure they worked but he didn’t have the same belief! You can bet that next trip Colin will have at least 2 or 3 of that lure ready to rock.
3) Bring A Good Net for Each Boat
If your trip goes as planned you will be landing a lot of fish. Walleye and pike can both be hell on your hands and a good net goes a long way. Worried about space we have made the mistake of not packing good nets and relying on what was in camp. This maybe wouldn’t have been such an issue if we confirmed with the outfitter that there were good nets on site (we didn’t) we just assumed that there would be based on previous trips. Well, you guessed it. The nets on site were few and those that were there were very beat up. We also had one net snap in the bottom of the boat due to an unfortunate tumble (by me, which we will never speak of again). So for the bulk of the week we had one good net, one net with a massive hole in it and 1 boat hand landing fish – not a good situation. Luckily it didn’t cost anyone a monster or a digit but it was less than optimal. This time around we will a) confirm w our outfitter and if needed ensure we have a good net for each boat.
4) Have a Plan
I have talked in a few posts (select trip planning in the blog filter) about the planning our group does leading up to each trip. To some it may seem excessive but in my opinion it’s a key ingredient. The plan can include thinking through your meals, doing some map study, thinking through boat assignments are just some of the things we plan out. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t written stone, we adapt all the time but I do believe that being aligned (to some degree) going in makes the overall experience more enjoyable. I remember one camping and fishing trip where we just showed up and while it was a great time, we ended up eating the same thing every day, had 3 canoes and 2 sets of paddles and no live bait. A little discussion up front would have improved our circumstances
5) Ditch Your Maybes
I realize this seems counter-intuitive to having back up lures and clothing for 3 seasons but hear me out. On some of my first trips I had so much tackle that never even got wet and so many items of clothing (flip flops and crocs?) that I didn’t need. My thought process now is to ditch anything that is “nice to have” and ensure I have back ups of the “need to haves”. I remember one year someone brought an extra sleeping bag but no pillow. Or the time I packed cologne (well there could have been a group of Victoria Secret models camping as well) and no toothpaste – forgot the need and brought the nice . This probably ties into the idea of having a plan but when packing my personal preference is to ditch the Whistle Jig that hasn’t seen the water in 3 trips to bring one more purple Colorado blade harness that seems to be magic every trip. I actually has some experts (loosely used) provide me with some of their must have items on a trip Top 5 Items Post
So, there are 5 things I wish I knew (or remembered) ahead of my first fishing trip. Hopefully you are smarter than I and will never make the same mistakes