| It's getting expensive to be an
active angler. Rods, reels, line, hooks, lures, terminal tackle,
tackle boxes, planer boards,
life jackets, net, bait bucket, electronics, trolling motors,
kicker motors, outboards and boats represent a considerable
Now we're faced with gasoline prices that are rising almost
as quickly as the national debt. It hurts to fuel up.
For about $70, a typical full-sized pickup can tow a boat about
200-250 miles. For another $100-$150, we can put enough fuel
in that big, beautiful boat for about two full days of fishing.
It's not like we can just quit fishing cold-turkey, either,
even if we wanted to. We're addicted to angling, and we need
help before the guys in the suits come to repossess our cars
and foreclose the mortgages on our homes.
In the interest of keeping America fishing, I'm offering
advice for anglers who might otherwise be headed for financial
ruin. Before receiving a "Dear John" letter from
an impoverished and inconsolable spouse or significant other,
try my "Dear John" service and I'll help you stay
Here are a few examples:
Dear John: I've been taking a pair of week-long fishing trips
with my buddies every summer for 20 years. Last year, I had
to cut out the annual family vacation to make it work. My
wife says she's going to leave me and my boat higher and drier
than a frog on the freeway. What's an angler to do?
J.K.: Compromise. Instead of two weeks, spend one week with
the boys and one on a family vacation. However, rather than
taking the family to some posh hotel near a mega-mall and
a giant amusement park, take the gang camping somewhere near
a well-known lake. You can slip out early in the morning for
a couple hours of fishing, then put on your Hawaiian shirt
and do the tourist thing the rest of the day. With the money
you save, buy your wife a Zebco Quantum rod and reel that
will help her become the angler you want her to be.
Dear John: I love to fish for fall walleyes, and I only live
two hours from the Mississippi River. I used to be able to
spend a day on the river for about $40.
Now, it's more like $100. I've maxed out my credit card, and
four-wheel drive truck for a used van, but I'm sliding down
the slippery slope to financial ruin. I'd rather sell a kidney
than give up my fall walleye fishing.
J.K.: Fear not, my friend. Selling an organ is only a temporary
Eventually, you will have no more organs. What you need are
better planning and more fishing buddies. Instead of going
by yourself on a Friday when everyone else is working, go
on Saturday when others might be able to join you. Instead
of going alone or with one friend, take two and divide the
cost three ways.
Dear John: We've been going to the same lake for a week each
summer since we were kids, but we can't afford to go that
far any more. We're having a garage sale next week, and my
daughters are putting price tags on my fishing rods. It's
only a matter of time until they find my Shad Raps, too. I
J.K.: Chances are, there's a great destination somewhere close
||If you only go half as far for that week
of family bonding and fun, it won't cost you any more
than it did before. Two great sources of information are
sports shows and your state Department of Natural Resources
website. There are dozens of outfitters, fishing pros
and resort owners at most sports shows. Figure out what
a realistic range is for your budget, talk to everybody
you can and see what they have to offer. Don't forget
about your state park and recreation areas, either. A
fair number have cabins for rent at very reasonable prices
and a wide
range of activities ranging from fishing, boating, skiing
and swimming to hiking, horseback riding, tubing and sand
Dear John: Since we can't afford to go to our favorite lake
anymore, I've been considering some other vacation destinations
that are a lot closer to where we live. We've enjoyed some
great fishing and great accommodations over the years, and
I'm really nervous about trying something new. Any suggestions?
J.K.: Talk to people you work with and find out about the
places they go. Once you've got a few ideas, call a resort
in the area. Ask about the fishing, ask about restaurants
in the area and ask about convenience stores, boat launches
and fish-cleaning facilities. Ask about bait shops in the
area, then call them. Tell them when you're going to be there
and ask what you can expect, or ask them what is the best
time to be there. Ask what species are present and if there
other lakes in the immediate area to fish. Ask what lures
and baits are best.
Ask for their recommendations regarding resorts or motels.
If you do your homework and ask the right questions, you won't
be disappointed. Those resorts and bait shops want your business.
Gasoline prices aren't going back to $1 per gallon. They
may not even get back to $2 per gallon. But we can't quit
living the leisure parts of our lives. All work and no play
is not healthy. We simply have to be smarter about where we
go, when we go, who we go with and what we do when we go.
Cut down the distance you travel. Trade your gas-guzzling
outboard for one of Mercury's new fuel-efficient and environmentally
friendly models. Back the rpms down from 5,500 to 4,000 when
you're traveling on the water. When possible, try an Optima
battery-powered MinnKota electric trolling motor instead of
running the kicker motor.
If you want your family to enjoy the fishing at a new location,
look for bodies of water where multiple species of fish are
present. Keep them busy catching fish and they won't care
that only a handful are going into the frying pan.
Do as much preparation as you can before you leave home. Know
exactly where things are located in the area to which you
are headed and make sure you have most of what you might need
before you ever leave home.
Think beyond the angling opportunities a vacation spot might
provide. Not everybody likes to fish from sunrise to sunset,
and there are plenty of destinations close to alternative
forms of entertainment or areas with rich historical significance.
Double up. If you've been used to vacationing only with your
family, consider inviting another family and taking just one
boat. If you often fish alone, find a friend or two to join
you. And if you're still frustrated, write a "Dear John"
letter. But I'll probably be fishing.