On the Bank

With the slow descent of the giant lighted ball high above Times Square comes the excitement of the New Year that lies ahead. Not sure about you, but New Year’s Eve for me does begin a time of reflection on the past and thoughts of some possible redirections concerning some areas and phases of my life. I find, for me, this approach has more positive effects and results than half-hearted, often unobtainable resolutions. As a matter of fact, several years ago I did make a New Year’s resolution to stop making resolutions.

The date of January 1 means very little to me in regards to my fishing “season.” As I have said before, my fishing year is broken down into open-water and hard-water fishing—the calendar date has little effect on what season I find myself in. So my “fishing New Year” begins with first ice. While I do get out on the ice, this time of year also begins my planning stage for the upcoming open-water season.

Planning consists of new techniques, tackle choices, equipment repair and maintenance, researching new fishing destinations and picking certain species to key on for the upcoming year.

When I look back and reflect over last year, I did follow through on the goals I set forth long before open water made its first appearance. Some choices paid off; others didn’t do so well. I don’t view these new concepts that didn’t produce as failures, just learning experiences without the outcomes I hoped for.

So now I look forward to both my upcoming fishing season and the new direction of the “On The Bank” column for 2016.

As far as personal fishing goals, I have some new rigging and gear concepts I plan to pursue. I also am going on somewhat of a “big fish” expedition from the banks. I’m looking forward to some “PB” (personal best) catches from the shoreline and going multi-species in this pursuit. One such fish will be muskies, fishing from the bank. The last couple of years at Heidecke Lake have prompted that quest.

Whether you are a fan of social media or not, “On The Bank,” starting in early 2016, will have its own Facebook page as well as a Twitter account with MidWest Outdoors. I appreciate all the emails this past season and that will still be an option, but the use of Facebook and Twitter seem to be the common thread of connection among many people.

The positive side of this social media approach is more up-to-date happenings, such as fishing reports and catches or what lakes are producing at that particular time of year. I plan to do “on-the-water” posts while I am on-site, instead of waiting for the end of the day. I can see the benefits to anglers who find out, “Hey, LaSalle Lake stripers are tearing it up today!” I know if I had the time and received the current report, I would be heading out. I am hoping anglers will be able to capitalize on the real-time information of the posts and tweets, rather than finding out the familiar, “You should have been here last week!” report that we too often hear. Everything from active species to bait choices can be posted to help followers of “On The Bank” increase their chances of success on the water and help select the proper bait and equipment before ever leaving home.

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Social media also allows for more of a personal interaction between readers of the column and myself and also with other members of the bank-angling community, which can be hard to build with just a print column alone. My goal for Facebook and Twitter for the “On The Bank” followers is not to be a source of entertainment, but rather a tool, an angling edge that hopefully will increase the confidence of those who follow.

Next up for “On The Bank” in 2016: I will be hitting the road for this season. I have had many invites around the state from bank anglers with suggestions to visit their favorite waters. So, as a bit of a shift in the column, I plan on more “destination” articles. If you follow this column, you know I normally write about techniques that can be successful anywhere. But this year, I feel some OTB road trips will make for some exciting articles. I am hoping some of the local readers will come out and join me, share a few of their favorite spots, techniques and rigs. By using both the monthly article and posts on Facebook and tweets on Twitter, we can plan exact days, times and locations for these outings.

I live in the northern part of the state, but just letting you know, central and southern Illinois—here I come! But here’s where I need your help. Followers of “On The Bank” let me know of some awesome bank angling venues and I’ll do my best to plan a visit. From the shores of Lake Michigan to all lakes due south: Let’s rock this season.

Please know I am not leaving the print side of “On The Bank” to pursue the online social media side. I know from talking with many anglers not everybody shares the same interest on the social media side of fishing today. The print medium and social media side will both feature themes of “new destinations” and “big fish.” I’m also going to do my best to save a little bit of space at the end of the column for some new rigs and techniques that will work on various bodies of water. And, of course, the sketches will continue!

Enough on the new “On The Bank” format for 2016.

If you don’t already do it, think about giving back in some way to our favorite pastime of fishing. There are many ways to accomplish this, so find one you feel comfortable with. Here are just a few examples of ways of giving back, and believe me, it’s not writing a check, it’s about connecting with others. Introduce new people to fishing and help get them started as new anglers, offer to volunteer for fishing events and derbies for kids or maybe help on the conservation side with waterway cleanups and restorations. If you know a veteran, whether it’s one of our older vets or one just returning home from current duty, invite them along on some fishing outings. These men and women sacrificed much so we could enjoy our lives and activities back at home while they were around the world defending freedom. I can’t think of a better way of saying, “Thank You” or bringing back some normalcy to those who served than spending some time on the bank with rod in hand. There’s hundreds of volunteer options out there for you to give your time to and the reward, believe me, will be as fulfilling for your soul as the ones you served.

In closing, I really want you to know how pumped I am for this upcoming 2016 season for the “On The Bank” column. And, I personally want to thank MidWest Outdoors magazine for giving me the opportunity to travel down some different paths with you, the bank angler.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach Dan Brozowski at [email protected], on Facebook/Dan Brozowski, on Twitter @brozowski_dan and on Instagram @dbroz_angling.