Fishing Memories

June 9, 2010 by  

By Doug Leier

Every so often as the kids and I set off on an unknown excursion, I’ll quip, “let’s go make some memories.”

I understand full well that setting off intentionally to make a memory is part tongue-in-cheek, and the purpose of most outdoor outings for me is spending quality time with the family. As a matter of fact, most will agree that the harder we try to make a memory, the less likely it seems to happen, at least in a positive way.

On the other hand, a quick mental rundown of fishing trips that began with no higher purpose than simply going fishing, will likely yield stringers full of memories.

While some have to do with catching a big fish, or a day when the bluegills were hitting fast and furious, many of the most outstanding memories are more about the people and places and not about a lunker or at times even catching a fish. I’ll admit I personally remember most details of my  biggest fish, but that’s simply one fish story sandwiched in between dozens upon dozens of others.

Really, there is no magic formula when setting off to make a memory, other than the final analysis of your trip will most likely fall into one of a few categories – good, bad or neither. The trick is to reduce the potential for bad memories by factoring in the variables you can influence. Young or old, fist time angler or veteran, Murphy’s law doesn’t seem to care. I can confirm from experience that the less you plan and prepare, the better chance the wheels will fall off.

Each individual angler has his or her own preferences, and as long as you account for that, you increase the odds for a smile at the end of the day. Communication is the first and most important ingredient for a sweet memory. When fishing with friends and family, it’s important to explicitly understand each others’ plans and expectations.

For some anglers, a day of fishing starts at sunrise and ends with the moon and stars. Others may prefer to begin with a hearty breakfast at the local cafe and may or may not want to extend the day past lunch. It’s simple communication of plans – setting off without relaying a planned return and lunch plans in advance can turn into a serious snag.

If you need to catch fish and any kind will do, think bluegill, crappie, or even carp, goldeye or bullhead. Yes, I said bullhead. If you really don’t care to keep and clean the fish and just long for the tug at the end of the line, don’t set off on a quest to land a 40-inch North Dakota muskie. We don’t have many of those and the odds of catching one are pretty slim.

If a walleye is a must, you’ll want to spend some time researching walleye waters in North Dakota and resolving that you may need a trip to Lake Sakakawea, the Missouri River or Devils Lake to increase your odds for catching a lot of them. Not to take anything away from other lakes that can produce good walleye fishing, but I’ve tried some of our mid-sized and smaller reservoirs and they can also eat away hours to put a frying-sized walleye in the boat and there’s no guarantee.

Realistically, no water offers a full guarantee, except that summer is full of memories just waiting to be caught, and it’s time to get out and enjoy.

Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: [email protected]


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