You all know I am an In-Fisherman junkie. No other publications, videos, TV shows, radio shows, etc. have taught me more about catching fish! I was reminded of that again when I picked up the October/November 2015 issue and saw the “Inside Angles”, lead-off column by Doug Stange, From Shore. In that column, Doug makes the case for fishing from shore and that a person does not necessarily have to own a boat and all of the latest modern toys in order to catch a variety of big fish.
I could not agree more!
Of course a lot of the reason for my agreement is that I have learned a lot from Stange’s articles, videos and TV appearances over the years, and I have put those things into practice.
Another reason is I do not own a boat.
One of my favorite things to do while working sportshows is to show off my album of fish caught from Nebraska waters. I have an album packed with photos of big fish of a variety of species all caught from Nebraska. Usually I can surprise folks with at least a few photos in that album; they do not expect fish like that to have been caught in Nebraska. They are even more taken aback when they realize that most of those fish were NOT caught from a boat.
Thinking back and making a quick list, remembering the biggest fish of a variety of species that I have caught, I recall that 13 of 21 of those “personal bests” were taken from shore (or more likely while I was wading). That includes unlikely species like muskellunge, and in fact the two biggest fish of any species I have caught, both from Nebraska waters, were taken while wading.
Another couple of my “personal bests”, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass, were caught while fishing from a float tube (Some of the best bass habitats in Nebraska are relatively small bodies of water, waters where a float tube is the BEST way to fish!).
Many of my best panfish, yellow perch, bluegill, and crappie, were pulled through holes in the ice, so was my best rainbow trout to date.
It is not that I do not like fishing from a boat. On the contrary, I take every opportunity I get to fish from a boat, and in the past my Grandpa, and later Dad, owned a pontoon boat from which we caught a lot of fish (by the way, pontoon boats can be great fishing boats, and especially are great ways to take the whole family fishing!). I have caught a lot of fish while fishing from boats too, but exactly 1 of my personal bests, channel catfish, has been caught from a boat.
In my position and in my passion for fishing, I talk to a lot of anglers, anglers of a variety of sizes, shapes, skill levels, motivations and desires. I talk to a lot who believe they need a boat, or the latest technology, or have to fish the very best, hottest waters in order to be successful–to catch fish, catch large fish. Those things cannot hurt and if you can afford to do that, GO FOR IT! But, if you cannot, do not sit at home making excuses. It takes time, effort, strategy and some knowledge, but it can be learned, it can be developed, fish can be caught (It’s All in Your Head).
I always joke when asked what I want for Christmas or a birthday, by replying “A Boat!” There is some truth to that, and if I can afford one someday, I will buy it. But honestly, you know what? Sometimes I wonder if I am not better off by not having a boat? Sure, there are certain seasons for certain species, when you will have to be fishing off-shore to be successful. But even then, there can be daily periods when those fish may come close enough to shore to be caught without a boat, and it is likely when those fish do move closer to shore they likely will be feeding and very catchable.
Am I better off with a boat to cover water and chase ’em to the farthest corners, or learning the times and locations where I am very likely to catch fish without a boat?
If those hot bites do not happen often enough or maybe not at all during certain seasons, am I better off finding more fish to catch by switching to another species that is more likely to be caught at that time?
One thing that frustrates me is that some anglers believe that there is something different about fishing from a boat or shore, or ice fishing, or fishing rivers and streams or . . . . It is all just fishing! Understand the fish you are pursuing, figure out where they are located, and then use the best tools, presentations, to catch them under those conditions on that day! If you do that and stay versatile, you will learn even more. It is all just fishing, and you can learn a lot by being on the water as much as you can, try to experience all kinds of fishing on a variety of waters, for a variety of species, twelve months out of the year. Naturally, we tend to have our favorite species, favorite techniques, favorite bodies of water, but if you try a lot of others you will be surprised what you will learn that can be applied to your favorite waters, favorite fish and favorite presentations. There are a lot of things I have learned fishing through an ice hole that apply to my open water fishing. There are things I have learned muskie fishing that apply to bass and walleyes. What I have learned while stuck on the shore apply to those times I am on a boat.
Yep, someday I might own a boat. When I do there will be a lot more to explore, a lot more to learn, a lot more fish to catch, a lot more big fish. Until then, I think I will just keep doing what I have been doing without the boat, keep exploring, keep learning, keep catching fish. Boat or no boat, don’t mean nothing, it is all just fishing; “Shut Up and FISH!”