By Nick Simonson
The main aspect which has always drawn me to fishing, no matter where I am, is the wide variety of species available to angle for. From season to season, from week to week, and even hour to hour, we are blessed to reside in an area of the world where one can fish walleyes, then crappies, then trout and then pike and still have room to angle for bass, bluegills and catfish. Sure, I have my favorites like smallmouth bass and rainbow trout that occupy a lot of my time during the open water season, but when a hot walleye bite is on, or pike are taking tip-ups on a frozen winter slough, it’s tough to turn down that action. Having so many options, especially headed into a new year, gives anglers a chance to explore new facets of the fishing world and expand their personal bests and life lists, and perhaps more exciting, make plans to break those barriers and explore new frontiers.
January is an ideal month to update those records regarding fish caught and the biggest ones brought to boat. Just like looking back on last year’s fitness goals and building resolutions for the coming year, the turning of the calendar sets the stage for what a person can hope to accomplish on the water in the seasons to come. Whether it has been an annual tradition, or a periodic updating as time has allowed, or maybe a first-time affair, laying out a one’s life list is a fun way to relive those memories of fish caught and who you were with and the stories behind them. Whether it was an intentional catch or a byproduct of angling for another species, making note of the methods used, the conditions occurring around the outing, and the tales that often accompany a personal best helps set the stage and provide insight into perhaps the next trophy for the photo album or the wall.
Whether it was one rarity, like a muskie or a lake sturgeon or a tiger trout, or just the happenstance of hooking the largest fish of a species angled for most frequently, recalling and putting the information on length or weight of the biggest fish in your memory helps create a life list of species caught. Doing so helps set the bar for next season – if breaking those barriers is what is desired – and allows an angler to focus on how to get the job done in the coming months. Even if that isn’t a goal, setting out a life list of fish landed helps define the different opportunities to explore to learn more about less-angled for species or to make a certain type of fish the target of more recreational trips in the upcoming season. Having such a wide variety of species to fish for isn’t where it ends, either.
The means to these ends of new fish caught or biggest fish landed can also be part of that life list and landing them through the ice, on the fly rod and even on water type such as lake, river or creek can help add to the enjoyment and the challenges sought in the upcoming year. It’s difficult to catch a catfish through the ice and landing a muskie on the fly rod is certainly an endeavor. Hooking a variety of species on one type of jig or fly can help provide insight into what triggers a bite, and even trying to catch as many different species in a single angling day can help shake things up in 2021 for those sportsmen savoring a challenge on the water. Consider these fun twists on fishing when life listing and setting out goals for the new year.
No matter how you prepare for the next 12 months, there are dozens of species to fish for and catch, and many ways to bring them to hand. Set up your spring and summer plans and your hardwater endeavors with these goals in mind, knowing that even if you don’t accomplish them, the fun is in the trying, unlike the annual effort to shed the holiday weight we all tend to pick up this time of year, and the sometimes-disappointing results that occur. Set out a list of those fish caught, the biggest, best and most memorable and look to build on those successes from seasons past and set up an awesome 2021 on the water.
Featured Photo: No matter the species, the size or the setting, sitting down and updating a life list and making fishing goals for the new year can be a fun and exciting way to get ready for a new twelve months of awesome angling. Simonson Photo.