Prepare for Success

By Ronnie Parris

Hey folks! Hopefully everyone is doing well and getting ready for springtime fishing trips. This article is just a few tips to make sure your outing is as enjoyable as it can be.

If you’re a person who likes to do your own thing and you don’t want a guide, it’s still probably a good idea to research the area your planning on fishing and try and get as much local knowledge as you can before you even pack for your trip. Great places to ask for advice include the local bait and tackle shops where folks can tell you what’s biting a what technique is producing the best, and also what baits your gonna want to bring or buy when you arrive. Most guides are willing to give you some pointers and try and help you get pointed in the right direction.

If you do get a guide, things you will want to consider prior to the trip include the time of year you are going what’s going to be biting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you have a client come in for a trip and you tell them what’s biting, and they say, well I don’t want to catch that species of fish, I want walleye. Well that would be great if I could make a walleye bite 365 days a year but sadly I can’t. Also you need to let the guides know if you intend to keep fish to eat as some guides only practice catch and release.

If you want to only fish with your equipment, make sure to ask the guides if that’s ok and if so, what line size you are going to need to use. My advice is to use the guides equipment, since it’s going to be one less thing to have to pack and it’s probably going to be matched better to the fish you are going to be catching. And ask the guides if you are going to want to do a full day or half. In our area the hot midday sun slows the bite in the summer, so I usually suggest a half day so that the trip ends as the bite slows.

Whether you are lake fishing from a boat or wading for wild trout, listen to the guide and don’t assume you know better. You’re paying him or her for their experience and knowledge, so soak in as much as you can from them.

On a recent fly fishing trip I had 2 clients and after getting the first guy in the water and showing him how to make a good drag free drift with his dry fly, he was doing pretty good. So I told him to make a couple casts in each place in the pool that might hold a fish, then take a few steps upstream and repeat the process. I said I’d take his buddy upstream a few hundred yards to give him plenty of undisturbed water, that I’d work with his buddy a few minutes, then return and work with him some more. I took the second guy upstream and in a few minutes had him doing good, and he had gotten a couple hits. So I got went back to check on the first guy, only to find he had gotten out of the stream. Long story short, I spent the next hour or so walking up and down the creek looking for him.

If you’re going to pay good money for a guide, pay as much attention to directions as possible, and I guarantee you’re gonna have a better trip than if you disregard directions and try to run off on your own an outcompete your buddy.

Another consideration, which really doesn’t have anything to do with fishing, is the accommodations where you will be staying on your vacation. If you are by yourself or with a fishing buddy, a no frills motel is great because you are probably going to be fishing most of the time and just need a hot shower and a clean bed to get some sleep at the end of day. But if you’re bringing the family, you may want to consider renting a house so the family can enjoy themselves, and you’re probably going to have an easier time getting them to go again.

Also consider the driving distance from your place of stay to where you are going to meet your guide. You don’t want to get up early and then have a 2 hour drive to meet the guide. If catching fish is more important than comfort let the guide know you’re willing to start as early as you need to. The first thing in the morning is usually the best, and I like being on the water for that morning bite. But if a client doesn’t care and wants to go later most guides are fine with that.

Just ask a lot of questions prior to your trip and make sure if it’s a guided trip you’re both on the same page as far as expectations. If you’re going to go it on your own, research any local knowledge you can and have everything ready to go so you spend your time on the water fishing.

Research the laws, rules and regulations for the area you intend to fish. Nothing can put a damper on a fishing trip like a ticket for not following the rules. Try and plan your trip for the best time of year for the fish you are targeting. Don’t get blindsided; be prepared. Dress for the weather conditions. Above all be safe and have fun.

As always, take a kid fishing. Build those memories.

Ronnie Parris is owner and head guide of Smoky Mountain Outdoors Unlimited-Fontana Lake Fishing Guides, headquartered in Bryson City, N.C., heart of the Great Smoky Mountains; (828) 488-9711.

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