What type of fishing is the best? Ask that question to 20 fishermen and you'll likely get 25 different answers. You will probably even start a heated debate. In reality, your choices are unlimited. Basic fishing style could be explained by species-bass fishing, crappie fishing, catfishing, trout, pelagics, in-shore, salmon, the list goes on and on, Then there is fishing by style- conventional, fly fishing, trolling, artificial or bait fishing, etc. Of course, you could even classify your fishing style by transportation method-boat, kayak, bank, wading, canoe, backcountry, etc. Some like to identify their fishing method with the type of waters that they have become comfortable with-river, lake, marsh, estuary, bay, creek, and more.
We probably all know a specialized fisherman. That's someone who becomes an expert at fishing a particular body of water for a particular species. I have a good friend like this. He can find the crappie on a local lake nearly any day of the year and its rare that he doesn't limit out! But put him on a new lake and he's like a fish out of water (pun intended).
My style is the exact opposite of a specialist. I've thought for years about how to describe my style and I could never find the right words until now. Anytime someone would ask me what I like to fish for the answer was generally "Anything that swims!". That answer always left me feeling lacking and I really wanted a better answer.
It was just a few days ago that it came to me, "Adventure Fishing!” Finally, I have a good way to describe my style of fishing. I was so excited that I may have said it out loud. I think I have too many audible conversations with myself, but it doesn't seem to bother my therapist.....Just kidding...maybe.
So what does Adventure Fishing mean to me? It means being passionate about looking for new species, new environment, or new fishing technique. Its a bonus if you can put a couple of those qualities together in an adventure. It could be searching for a far off exotic place or it could be just looking for new opportunity hidden in plain sight right in your home town. It might mean packing a travel rod when you head out of town just in case a chance pops up or intentionally planning to tackle a new type of fishing. Basically just trying to get in as many new fishing experiences as possible.
My passion for Adventure Fishing began at a young age. Probably because it seemed like I was surrounded by opportunities to fish. My great grandparents had a large cattle farm with many ponds. I got to spend a couple weeks up there each summer hitting all the different ponds to see what was lurking below. Bluegill, bass, catfish were all on the docket. Its was a great opportunity for a young kid.
One day my Great Grandpa told me he saw some decent size bass down in the creek when he was driving over the bridge in the tractor hauling hay. What!!! Bass in a creek??? I had never thought of such a thing. I had literally caught hundreds of bass already out of the ponds, but now catching a bass in a creek occupied every thought. I couldn't stand the suspense. I had to get there and try it! I immediately hiked down there and caught about a 1.5lb largemouth from the bridge in a little farmland creek. That remains to this day one of my favorite fishing memories of all time!
I was the same age when my other grandparents lived on a community lake locally here in Missouri. When I was 10 years old, they moved to The Lake of the Ozarks to live on boat. How cool was that? As a kid, I spent 2 weeks hanging out at the lake with them every summer catching hybrid stripers, catfish, bluegill, carp and chasing giant gar. Those summers were so much fun and I learned so much.
More opportunities arrived as a teenager when we were going to the boundary waters on a regular basis. One day I came across Larry Dahlberg's Pike On The Fly video. He showed how flyfishing for shallow early season pike was one of the best methods available. I immediately started tying large deer hair bugs and rabbit fur leeches for our next trip north. Catching giant pike in 6" of water was a blast!
That love of variety fishing and new challenges has stayed with me and remains a part of my life to this day. I love the idea of going after something new and I love to trek off searching for new fishing environments. I love surf fishing when we go to Florida for Spring Break and I love fishing those north lakes in the Quetico backcountry. Sneaking a line in one of those ponds behind the grocery store down the street still makes my heart skip a beat! I just love fishing and when I see a new opportunity I want to give it a shot.....always....anytime....anywhere!
That passion has not lessened as I have gotten older. Not even one little bit. Even though I have a pond full of crappie just up the road, when I hear about spawning crappie in a creek nearby I get super excited! You say the trout are on fire this year at lake Taneycomo? Lets go!! The spillway is overflowing and the white bass are stacked up..... I'm on my way! The catfish spawn is on and they are shallow all around the lake....truck is loaded. I love a new adventure and when you mix it with fishing, I just can't resist.
Besides the excitement of an unknown adventure, and challenge of trying something new, there's another positive aspect of Adventure Fishing. Just like when an athlete or fighter cross trains in a different discipline, it causes you to gain new skills. Learning new techniques, new rigs, new knots and a chance to look at habitat from a different perspective, builds fishing character and discipline. That can be very beneficial when you return to some of your tried and true fishing spots and bring your new knowledge with you.
But be warned there is a dark side to this. It can even damage your relationships and finances (I mean even more than we all know that fishing already does). Your gear collection may grow out of control. Fly gear, surf tackle, bowfishing stuff, limblines, seins, throw nets, ultralight, heavy trolling, backpacking gear and the list goes on and on. You may find yourself up at 2 a.m. buying new gear under the cover of darkness.
Furthermore your desire for knowledge will grow. Your wife will find you watching youtube videos under the blanket at midnight learning how to catch bait for surfishing or reading articles on backcountry access. You may get up an hour early to practice a bimini twist or dropper loops before you leave for work.
So, if you feel like living on the edge and taking the risk, I challenge you to give Adventure Fishing a shot! Warning! You WILL get hooked!