The Good Old Days are Right Now for Big Fish

Sometimes we hear about the good-old days of fishing, back when the fish were bigger and there were more of them. And, while I’m sure there were times and places where the fish were larger and more plentiful, the reality is the current era is pretty darn good.

First off, we’re just better anglers, and we have better equipment. Boats, outboards and electric motors are the same deal: we can get offshore and to far-away locations safely where the fish are biting more. And due to the efforts of angling communicators, we now have lots of information about fish including their seasonal movements, preferred lure choices by season and even how they react to weather conditions. We know that usually spring walleyes like a slower presentation in shallow water near their spawning areas and that they like a jig tipped with a minnow. We don’t need to experiment and try different things too often. We can now look at a map of a lake and get a good idea where fish are, and we go there.

With access to this information we’re much more willing to travel. We hear about a hot bite on Green Bay or Devils Lake or the Winnipeg River or Winnie, and we just hook the boat up and go. And when you put yourself on a hot bite you’re likely going to catch more fish.

Our equipment is so much better today than it was just 10 years ago. Sonar in particular can show us so much of what is going on in the underwater world. No longer do we spend time fishing where there are no fish. And if the sonar doesn’t reveal fish in the area, we go elsewhere.

Regulations have helped in many situations; look at the muskie catches. Back in the day, a 30-inch muskie was legal and a big deal if you caught one. Now in many places the minimum legal length is 50 and 54 inches in some places. While a 50-incher is still memorable, they’re certainly more common than they used to be. There are longer growing seasons too. In many areas there are years when spring arrives earlier and fall lasts longer, giving fish more time to grow.

There are some trouble spots of course. In years past, we suggested that anglers keep panfish for the table and release the walleyes. That probably put too much pressure on the panfish. In some places stunted panfish are too common. And the same is true with northern pike. However, we have so much to be optimistic about when it comes to species-specific fishing.

We might think fondly about the good-old days of fishing, but in many ways right now are the good-old days. Take advantage of them.