We’re in the peak of vacation season. But what if the vacation schedule is some boring urbanite list of drudgeries? Or what if you’re traveling on a business trip? Attending a seminar in another town or state?
This article will apply to all of the above scenarios.
I remember one time my daughter, grandson and I flew down to see mom for a week. I had one striper fishing trip lined up with my brother, but other than that, we were just going to mess around and see the family.
My daughter is super creative and lined up two to three fun activities. I was raised around there and didn’t even know about these possibilities. My point is that what I learned from her is don’t trust the locals to know about all of the local attractions. Granted, I love visiting locales and the locals showing cool stuff I would of never discovered but sometimes they take for granted their surroundings.
It’s easy now to explore beforehand your destination due to the advent of the internet. Another idea, when the kids were small and we were visiting an area, we’d buy a book about rocks that could be found locally and try to find some of each.
If (which is usually the case) you only have a couple of free half-days, hire a fishing guide. He’ll have the boat, fishing gear, know where to go etc. Otherwise, you could stumble around for a month figuring out the system.
Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to hire a guide anyway. Used to be, I’d fly home for Christmas and hire a striper guide for a day. Then my brother would come home the next day with his boat and we’d know where to go and what they were hitting.
Usually on any trip, visiting in-laws, business trip, going somewhere for a wedding or maybe a family vacation you’ll have one to two free afternoons. Instead of wasting precious vacation time setting around doodling why not get outdoors? It may be exploring, hiking, fishing, visiting a local gun range or outdoor shop.
All of the above is fresh on my mind. I’m over in South Dakota as I type this article doing a consulting deal. I fly home this Friday. But Saturday I didn’t have to work. I had a ton of articles to get in. I have a nine-part airgun series for RonSpomerOutdoors.com, a self-defense in the outdoors article for gunpowdermagazine.com, something like six to eight product reviews for Ammoland Shooting Sports News and this article. No way that I was going to be able to get them all written until I get home and can write solid for a week but some (like this article) are due right now.
So, Friday night I typed until nearly midnight and when I woke up Saturday I started pounding the keyboard again. But with the thoughts above in my mind I told a buddy that we ought to go fishing for a couple of hours Saturday at about 7:30. So I worked on getting all of the articles whipped out that I could and then grabbed my buddy and his wife and off we went.
South Dakota is world-renowned for walleyes. But mainly in the spring. Summer is tough. Last weekend Katy was here and we jumped in with a guy with a boat Sunday after church but like I said above, walleye fishing is slow right now. But as the saying goes, “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”
Well, Jeff, Kate and I went to a local lake 15 miles from where I was working. Sundown it cools off a little and the walleyes get active. We were bank fishing so it’d be tough but still, refer to the above saying.
I hung one small walleye and lost him. Kate is from Russia and I don’t think that she has ever fished.
She hung one small walleye but he got off before I could get over to where she was. Then in a bit she hung a hog.
I coached her on holding her rod tip up etc. He was taking a little line and Jeff reached over to tighten her drag. I quickly said nooooo, but it was too late. The hog snapped her line in a hot second.
A little later I saw where a big fish boiled out about 20-30 feet. I flipped out a jig with a Mister Twister tail. Nada. I cast again. Nada. He boiled again right below the surface feeding on something. The fourth cast he engulfed the jig.
I had a medium weight set-up with 8-pound test so I had my drag set semi slack. I was afraid he was going to snap off so I loosened it a little more. This was going to be a huge walleye! Probably pushing 10 pounds! I fought him for a good while. I’d lift the rod tip slowly and reel back down. Then he’d take another run and peel off line. I played him slow for 10 to 15 minutes then started getting more serious.
After 20 minutes I thought I’d better tighten my drag a little or this fight would go on all night but the deal that had just happened with Kate scared me so I didn’t dare touch it. Finally, after 25 minutes I started gently increasing the drag just a hair.
I still could not make any headway so to speak but he was a little closer to shore. Now the next big problem. We didn’t have a dip net and he was a big fish. The fight was now pushing 30 minutes and I was getting him almost close enough to net … if you had a long net … but then he’d charge and go out deeper.
Jeff took off his shoes and socks to wade out and wrestle him in. I cautioned him not to touch the line and to put his socks on his hands so he could grip the fish and to grasp him behind the head and flip him up in the rocks.
I asked are you ready? Jeff said yes. I cruised him in and Jeff did a great job grabbing him and getting him in. He redeemed himself after snapping off Kate’s big one. Don’t worry. We didn’t rag on him too bad.
Turns up my big walleye was big a fat channel cat. It had a huge belly so I figured it was spawning three to four months late or had just eaten an 11-inch crappie. Turns up it was packed with seaweeds. Have you ever heard of catfish eating seaweeds?
Well, by now it was well after dark. We went back to the apartment complex where Jeff lives, cleaned the big cat and had a fish fry and got to bed at 1:45 a.m. That’s a whole lot better than setting around watching the boob tube, isn’t it?
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.