Reel Time: Planning a successful fishing trip

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When heading into legendary fishy waters, having everything in order increases your chances of success. – Rusty Chinnis | Sun

Planning any fishing trip can be a challenge given the peculiarities of the weather and the idiosyncrasies of the fish. Add a few thousand miles, a different language and an exotic species or two, and some serious planning is recommended.

Chances are you’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time and finally you’ll have the opportunity to do nothing but eat, fish, sleep and snooze for a week or more. More than likely, it took an awful lot of time and money to get this opportunity, so it makes sense to come up with a plan to make sure you have the best chance of success.

Deciding where to go and when are the first decisions you will make. While it’s not impossible to book your own trip, knowing the best time, tides, and accommodation can be daunting. Plus, juggling the details of plane reservations, transfers, accommodations, and guides can increase the challenge of arranging a self-guided trip.

A knowledgeable travel outfitter or host can provide you with the experience and insider information that will allow you to immerse yourself in the experience rather than the details. Even when using an outfitter, you will need to do some research to ensure that your angling needs and expectations match your chosen destination. There are plenty of resources online, including great groups on Facebook, but you’ll need to check these sources.

On recent trips to the Bahamas and Montana, I traveled with groups hosted by Captain Rick Grassett of Sarasota. Although I’ve been planning my own trips around writing assignments for years and know of many destinations I’ve traveled to with him, having all arrangements, including air travel, coordinated by someone other is a big plus.

When choosing a destination outfitter or host, know that knowing what you want from your trip and asking the right questions is important to meeting your expectations. Some of the best fishing is available at sites with the fewest amenities. If you need a certain level of service or are traveling with non-anglers, you’ll want to look for places that offer specific amenities as well as good fishing. While you don’t want to plan your trip based on second-hand information, you’ll find it can be helpful to talk to other people who have taken the trip you’re planning. Ask the provider or host for several references and question them carefully. Make sure they’ve been in the location recently and at the time of year you plan to visit.

In foreign countries (the Bahamas is a foreign country), you will find it difficult to replace items you forgot to pack, especially fishing tackle. This is a case where it’s probably best to pack more than you think you’ll need, within reason! Making a packing list and checking it before you leave will pay dividends. Most destinations provide checklists you can use to make sure you don’t forget anything important. While their recommendations are a good place to start, customizing your own travel checklist can help ensure you have what you need while streamlining the amount of luggage you pack.

Many tropical fishing destinations are very close to the equator, so anglers should pay special attention to the sun. Long-sleeved pants and shirts with sun protection are recommended, along with high SPF waterproof sunscreen. Polarized glasses with anti-glare protection and a fishing hat with a dark lower brim are mandatory and a second pair of each should accompany you. For years I used a full face mask and gloves to protect myself from the sun. Recently I started wearing a fishing hoodie with thumbholes that protect my face, hands and wrists. I find hoodies much more comfortable and have invested in several that have (very comfortable) bamboo fibers woven into them. Invest in a good pair of flat boots and a scarf or fanny pack with a water bottle holder and you’ll be good to go.

The success or failure of any fishing adventure will vary due to conditions beyond your control, but being aware of the things over which you have control can make or break your trip. Be prepared, do your homework upfront, ask good questions from knowledgeable sources, and be flexible. The time and effort you put into planning the trip will earn you tight lines and lasting memories.

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