Fishing Is Great…Even When You Aren’t Catching

July 6, 2016 by  

Ask me how fishing is, and I’ll reply that fishing is always great; it always has been and always will be.

For me, the catching is a different story and tends to be a bit overrated, to tell you the truth. But perhaps my prowess at catching helped change my goals and fishing philosophy over the years.

Simple Fishing

(Photo by NDGF)

As a kid, the natural tendency for a little competition when fishing with friends never hooked me. I’m pretty sure I never took home the bragging rights of biggest fish or most fish. To compensate, I’d try to convince friends we shouldn’t target walleye, which in my mind would sort of even the playing field by settling for bluegill or bullheads as the trophy catch.

Bullheads are pretty easy to catch with a hook, bobber and worm. I went so far at one point that I decided my best chance to etch my name in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s Whopper Club would be with a bullhead, and not a walleye, pike or even perch.

As my lack of fish-catching skills would attest, I haven’t yet reached the plateau of a two-pound bullhead, which would seem like a failure on top of a failure. But I still don’t consider myself a failure when it comes to fishing.

I’ve caught my share of pike, walleye, perch and bluegill, but if the stringer is only full of memories, that suits me just fine.

It’s not just about fish. It’s about places and friends, it’s about dodging storms and spitting seeds in the sun and letting a mosquito find its spot on my forearm before taking a swipe. I take a little bit of pride in the fact there’s no daily limit on memories or the number of laughs or smiles on a fishing outing, regardless of the catching that goes on.

But even though my success rate for catching isn’t anything to brag about, I still do like to catch fish, and right now in North Dakota, even for anglers like me, fishing prospects are about as good as they can get.

The state has more waters and fish, more access and fish cleaning stations. We have contour maps and stocking reports accessible not just at the click of a mouse from your office desk or home computer, but now at the tap of a finger from your mobile device.

Even with my bobbers-and-worms approach, that can be helpful. With more than 400 bodies of water to choose from, there are more places to fish than ever before.

Look at it this way, if you are into catching more than fishing, and whoppers are more desired than just keepers, you can find a lot of useful information on the Game and Fish Departments fishing portal of the website, at

For me, I’ve officially set aside the goal of catching a fish to make the Whopper Club, but my fishing has never been better.


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