New Year’s resolutions for anglers

Another year has come and gone and with it, hopefully, some great memories for all you anglers out there in Sunset Country.
I spend a lot of time fishing through all 12 months of the year. As long as there is something biting, I will be out there so I don’t have a pile of downtime.
Each and every year, we move forward with many great memories from previous seasons, at least I do.
When I was a little kid, I used to make a list of my favourite five days that I had fishing over the past year. Some of those days even have turned into tradition for me.
I know that is a little obsessive, but you have to understand that I live and breathe fishing, so this was important to me.
Make the most of your fishing season in 2011 by taking a cool trip, fishing in a tournament, or catching the biggest fish of your life.
It’s funny, living in Sunset Country, we have many of the finest fishing opportunities in the world—a fact I have claimed many times over in this column. People travel from far and wide to fish our waters for walleye, bass, musky, and many other species.
Most of us take these great options for granted. But I know how good we have it because I have travelled to other locations in North America with less desirable fishing than we have.
There are some great trips out there that will create memories for a lifetime, and you should try to make one happen in 2011. If you have no interest in travelling long distance to go fishing, you could try a fly-in trip right here in Sunset Country.
If you’ve never been in a float plane, the view of our region from above is incredible. There are many tourist operators in the region who will take you on one-day or week-long trips into some remote lakes where fish literally will jump into the boat.
Other trips to consider that would make the top of my list would be salmon fishing on the west coast, either in British Columbia or Alaska. The opportunity to catch giant lake trout in the Northwest Territories would be awesome, as would catching a tarpon off the coast of Florida.
The fact is, there are some incredible trips to be had on new bodies of water. Go for one!
Although fishing tournaments are not for everybody, for many of us they are a lot of fun! We have some of the best open team tournaments in North America; in fact, most of us have no idea how lucky we have it to have such well-supported, community-run events.
Tournaments have played a big part of my life for over the past 15 years and have created many of my best memories. Most of my friendships have come about because of participating in these events, as well.
If you are a bass or walleye angler, leave a weekend open on your calender next year to participate in a tournament.
The usual goal for most anglers when they head out on the water is to catch the biggest fish they can. Most of us know our own records, and catches always are the most notable when they break our personal bests.
The key to catching the biggest fish of your life is to fish during peak periods when fishing opportunities are best or during the pre-spawn period when fish are the heaviest.
For spring-spawning pike and walleye, this means targeting fish late in the ice season as they make predictable seasonal movements towards spawning locations.
Bass, both largemouths and smallmouths, bulk up considerably in the fall as they go on a feeding binge to prepare for winter. Muskies also weigh the most late in the fall when they feed heavily on large ciscos and whitefish that move shallow to spawn.
The key to catching truly big fish is to spend the most time fishing during these peak times.
Finally, take somebody fishing who does not get to spend much time on the water, especially kids. The fun to be had fishing on the ice, from shore, or in the boat is second-to-none.
All the best in your fishing adventures in 2011—and remember to have fun!

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