Fishing Tips to Help You Enjoy the Outdoors…Indoors


To help get you through the COVID-19 virus “quarantine,” MidWest Outdoors’ Ryan Collins offers these three fishing tips to help you enjoy the outdoors…indoors. Best of all, once you actually hit the water you’ll be fully prepared for the start of the season. 


Procrastination can be a frustrating habit. Year after year, I find myself scrambling in the short few days before my first bass tournament or fishing trip. I always tell myself I will be more prepared this year than last, but it never sticks. Life happens, and before I know it, I am fumbling through the reorganizing of my tackle with a flashlight at 10 o’clock the night before. But this year is different.

If there is one positive this COVID-19 “quarantine” has given me, it’s the ability to get properly prepared for the upcoming season. Fishing in much of the country is in full swing, and in Ohio, where I am from, it’s right around the corner. For many of us, our right to enjoy the outdoors has been placed on hold, so let me share with you some things for helping you enjoy the outdoors…indoors.


Practice your craft

This goes way back to when I was in high school. In southwest Ohio, we don’t have an abundance of prime fishing waters, especially in the winter. Therefore, I would spend hours in the living room or outside on “nicer days” practicing my craft. I would set up numerous cups, targets and obstacles to flip and pitch into and around. 

I would challenge myself to skip my bait under the door frame, or to flip it into all five cups in a row or be forced to start over. In college, I would hold indoor competitions with my roommates, all of whom were on the bass fishing team with me.

Spending time practicing your craft while indoors not only helps keep your mind off of being stuck indoors, but you just get darned good at it!

I became much better at flipping and pitching, and by the time the season rolled around I was ready for action. Whatever you fish for, or how you fish for it, take some time to get in the backyard and practice. Start to regain some of that muscle memory that has faded since last season. 


The one thing I was always good at was studying, not only in school but for my tournaments and trips as well. We have so much technology, software and information available to us that it is easy to find information and help. One big thing I like to do is study lake maps. Lake mapping is highly advanced these days, and I will sometimes spend hours intently studying and analyzing digital graphs. 

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I do this in a multitude of ways: online chart software, Google maps, or even sitting in your boat using electronics. Finding new areas on the bodies of water you most fish can be rewarding. It also keeps you from fishing the same stretches of water year after year. Start planning out a new strategy for your tried-and-true lakes or research a new body of water. 

These days I find myself using paper maps less. But if you’re a paper guy, you should check out the pre-marked lake map features in every issue of MidWest Outdoors magazine. Each map features a lake that is scoured by MWO experts, who offer their advice on the best way to approach that body of water. Best of all, you can literally pull the map page out of the magazine and take it with you on your next fishing trip! 


Organization and Prep

When organizing and preparing my abundance of tackle, I get pulled in two directions. I love going through my boat and organizing the giant mess from the season before. Long-forgotten lures and tools turn up, and once finished I experience a sense of serenity and accomplishment. 

On the other hand, it is one of the most overwhelming and tedious tasks on my to-do list. Having boxes, lures, tools, rain gear, and more spread out all over the place is intimidating. 

My suggestion to you: take it one step at a time, one category at a time. Start with hard baits; then move on to your terminal tackle; then work on soft plastics. This relieves some of the anxiety and helps you stay focused. 

One big pointer: when going through hard baits, be sure to change out dull or rusty treble hooks immediately. Don’t procrastinate, you want to have everything ready to go for when you need it most.


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