Looking Back at a Memorable Year of Fishing


It’s at this time of year that I like to look back at the season just completed. Every year has trips that are more memorable than others, for one reason or another. The following are a couple of very notable trips from this past open-water fishing season.

My first memorable experience was also my first fishing trip of the year. I was on Sturgeon Bay fishing smallmouth bass with my friend Mike Gottheardt. Mike is a fishing tackle sales rep who is also an outstanding angler. I’ve fished Sturgeon Bay several times and know it’s outstanding for smallmouths.

Our arrival at Sturgeon Bay coincided with a major weather front that brought high winds so strong that it dictated where we could fish. The first day we fished protected and not so protected areas in the shipping channel. We caught a good number of smallmouths, and they were all of a nice size. However, Mike knew that we could do better. So the next day we decided to fish an area that he felt would hold bigger fish. The only downside was that we would need to run some rough water to get there. We would be traveling right into the wind, and then right with the wind for a mile or two.

We left the boat landing and the water was calm; we went around the point and the water wasn’t as calm. We considered turning around, but then remembered there were smallmouths to catch and we only had to run the rough stuff for a mile or so. It was one of the roughest runs I’ve ever made, but my boat did an outstanding job, and so did my Guidewear foul-weather gear. We got to our spot and indeed the smallmouths were there—they were nice ones. Mike wasn’t satisfied though. This was the first time in my life that someone apologized that the smallmouths only averaged about 3 pounds.

Another memorable trip: For the past 10 years my nephew Sam and I have been making an annual two-day trip to Minnesota to fish for whatever bit. It’s usually largemouth bass. I think Sam still enjoys this trip, but maybe he’s just humoring his aging uncle.

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This year we fished with my friend Duane Peterson. Duane and I have been fishing together for almost 30 years, but it was always business related. We were usually making television shows and there was pressure to catch some fish for the camera. This time we just went fishing and it was wonderful. Duane took us to some of his favorite lakes. When we got tired of catching largemouth bass on jig worms, we went to another lake and caught them on surface baits. And when that wore down, we went to another lake and caught them on spinnerbaits. We accomplished nothing from a business perspective, yet so much from a personal perspective. This was one of the best fishing trips I’ve been on in many years, and look forward to repeating it in the future.

We go fishing to experience the thrill and magic of catching a fish, but sometimes we get too wrapped up in that. For many of us, if we just think a bit, it’s the other elements of a fishing trip that make the trip memorable. Next time you’re on the water or the ice, take note of the things other than just catching fish and I think you’ll enjoy the experience even more.


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