Today marked the end of my 2014-2015 fishing license opportunities. I don’t expect to be on the water again before my license expires in April. These annual milestones come around too quickly. However this year I feel a little like I am ending one year and starting a new one in a great way. I have been giving considerable thought to what it takes to make changes in my life, break old patterns and open
A big part of the process of changing direction and moving forward is to get unstuck. I write this post currently from a standing computer desk. That is to say, I purchased a folding table that mounts to the wall at a height that by design forces me to stand as I write on my laptop. The previous set up I had was doing my back huge injustices as well as adding to the hours that I was “stuck” online or at my computer. This simple change in ergonomic design has been a great move. I don’t fall into a sedentary posture.
Unsticking my fishing world a little has been also a point of focus. I suppose it was inevitable that I would grow tired of some of the “usual places” I have been going to fish. I notice myself becoming intolerant of the crowds the over-fished holes and the garbage on the trails for the spaces that are closer to the city. So I am looking just a little further West into the mountains. Today I was able to scout some new water and found a great new place that is exactly what I needed.
The goal I set was to just find a new place, explore and see what I could find. I didn’t want to have to go too far away and had a feeling that I was missing some water that was really just far enough off the beaten path that those who know about it respect that fact. I am going to continue to find new water in the new season as well. I have a few tips here that I am going to share that might help you break some of your old habits of going to the same over-fished waters.
1. Ban yourself (for a while anyhow) from going to the same old places.
By making a conscious effort not to go to those same places for a while you will be forced to find new waters. This is going to take some self-discipline.
2. Don’t look for leads on fishing groups or websites.
Popular fishing websites for your area are more likely than not going to discuss the more popular places that everyone is flocking to. While knowing that a certain place is fishing well is nice to hear and seeing those fish porn photos is fun...that isn’t what you are looking for. If you want to recruit a friend you can do that too and make the challenge about finding new water for both of you to explore.
3. Decide how far you are willing to go and other qualifiers.
Set a general distance in miles or perhaps better yet a reasonable general travel time to determine how far you are going to initially look. For myself, I am happy with 30-45 minutes away. I might do a hour if the water turns out to be primo! This gives me plenty of time to get there at a reasonable time, get some fishing in and still make it home before I am missed at home or worse yet, miss dinner. You can also set some other limits or qualifications to help you consider if a potential water lead is a good one.
4. Poke around the internet for non-fishing related groups and websites.
I found a few great Facebook pages and websites along the way that were not fishing related groups or websites. These online resources can give you some great clues and leads on some access points to water you might not have thought of. These access points sometimes have surprise fish-able streams you didn’t know about.
5. Get a bird’s eye view from a spaceship or just use Google Earth (it’s cheaper).
Once you have narrowed down a destination lead, google the destination and get a bird’s eye view. You might be surprised by access points to water that you didn’t know existed because they are part of an area that is more used by hikers or bikers than the fishing set. Google Earth lets you see as well if there is a lot of private land near the water which sometimes means posted signs and barbwire fences. Also note if the roads are paved, dirt or jeep trails.
6. Plan a trip to explore and give yourself time to do it right.
Pack a lunch, some snacks and plenty of water and other beverages if you want. Be sure to have all your gear and have an open mind to even take a chance on a side road or two that you might not have noticed. Today I found great water before even reaching the destination I had scouted out in my homework. You want to be sure that you give yourself time to get lost even. Take notes along the way of other water you see along the way or that you suspect might be areas to look at when you get back. If you can get a map of the area that will help loads too if you get lost.
7. You are going to hit some bad leads. But the day is not lost.
Not all trips you take are going to be fruitful for fishing. That is to be expected. This should not however be a deterrent to plugging on. In the end we remember our journeys more often than our destinations. Let the journey happen and enjoy the adventure anyway. Look for opportunities to befriend other travelers you encounter. See what they know and perhaps what they are willing to share as ideas for places to explore. People in general want to be seen as knowledgeable and helpful.
I hope that these tips will help you find new waters and great new experiences along the way as well. You can share additional ideas to add to these tips as well.
Dennis Vander Houwen lives in Colorado with his patient and supportive wife, talented artist son, a cuddly dog, and a very lucky cat. Dennis is an avid minimalist, wood craftsman, curious tinkerer and learner and most notably a deeply focused tenkara angler.