Welcome 2017!

It doesn’t seem that long ago we were watching the ball drop to welcome in 2016. Time flies when you’re having a great time fishing. Before going any further, I want to say Happy 50th Anniversary to MidWest Outdoors. What an incredible accomplishment: 50 years of “Helping You Enjoy The Outdoors.”

The start of 2017 finds me totally stoked for the new season of “On the Bank” columns. I spent all of 2016 testing equipment, new bait and lure options, new techniques and concepts, all geared toward improving not only my own successes, but those of you, the American bank angler. I added American, because last year my travels and angling trials and experiments ventured outside the boundaries of my home state of Illinois.

In 2016, I literally challenged and was then able to cast aside many of the limitations we often yoke ourselves with as bank anglers. I learned a critical lesson for sure: if you accept or limit yourself to the mediocre, you will reap the very same outcome.

Here at “On the Bank” in 2017, we’re going to shatter some old molds of our images of how we see not only ourselves, but how others in this industry view the modern bank angler. Rather than ignore many of the advancements in tackle, techniques, and concepts developed and successfully used by professional anglers, we are going to infuse these products and ideas into how we approach fishing from the bank––and in the process, see our success rates skyrocket.

For a few years, I have been listening to complaints and views of bank anglers on how the fishing world––tackle manufacturers and retailers––have focused all new developments by targeting and catering to the wants and needs of the boating angler only. I agree that advancements in boat designs, accessories, and especially electronics have benefitted the boating anglers, no argument there. But, equally impressive have been advancements in rods, reels, baits, lures, etc. These products should find their way into the arsenal of today’s bank angler.

I can assure you that with a few tweaks and adjustments, all the tackle you might have deemed “for boaters only” can be used with incredible success, making these advancements critical tools for the bank angler.

I have been waiting for this bank fishing “volcano” to erupt and already feel the rumblings for the 2017 season. But to witness a change from the routine or normal when it comes to bank angling, tackle improvements are only part of the equation. Communication and education among fellow bank anglers is equally as critical, if not more so.

Which brings up another point: I don’t want this column to be just another fishing article on how to catch whatever. I have always done my best to educate and inform while writing for MidWest Outdoors, and my hope is that foundation will continue while we also begin to create new perceptions concerning the direction of advanced bank angling. How awesome it would be to develop a fellowship of like-minded anglers, exchanging techniques and ideas, to advance this new trend. We can accelerate our successes tenfold if we simply learn to share our triumphs learned at the water’s edge! We can do this by communicating with fellow bank anglers in person, or through one of the many social media outlets.

Tackle
We will be looking at a variety of rods, reels, lures, terminal tackle, and bait options suited to optimize the success of the bank angler. We are not going to be pigeonholed into the idea that bank fishing tackle consists of red-and-white plastic bobbers and a can of worms.

Techniques
We are going to explore new approaches from the dry side of the lake, some a mere tweaking of already-used standbys and some that are seemingly out of their element as a bank fishing technique.

Species
Most of our bodies of water contain many species, all there for the pursuit. With a somewhat heavy focus on angling for bass in today’s fishing environment, we are going to challenge some other finned creatures as well.

Hunt for big fish
While catching big fish is not the major passion behind why I spend my time on the water, every now and then, the idea of targeting large fish does interest me. You are going to be surprised at what swims in our local waters.

Fishing destinations
My primary focus here will be on catching fish in some out-of-the-ordinary locations, many surrounded by the sprawling urban areas many of us call home. Consider, if you will, (stole that from The Twilight Zone), catching bass in the 5-pound-plus range, muskies up to 50 inches, 8- to 10-pound walleyes, giant cats, behemoth carp, palm-sized bluegills, and slab crappies––not from big southern impoundments or pristine Northwoods settings, but from areas with city skylines as backdrop.

As you can see, we have a lot to cover this year. I hope you are as jacked as I am to make 2017 a year of change, a new dawn for the advanced bank angler.

For those who follow “On the Bank,” I have had the honor and privilege to meet and share some time with you over the last few years at various events and locations, and your interest in this column means more than words could describe. With the upcoming winter sport show season upon us, I am looking forward to shaking a few hands and swapping a few stories, so please come by and say hello at the MidWest Outdoors booth at the various shows. And if you see a black and red jersey wandering around the shows with an On the Bank logo on it, please stop me because I can’t wait to meet you.