Winter Sports Shows Help You Plan a Fishing Trip


Winter sports show can help you plan a fishing trip. This is the time of year when a person wanting to plan a fishing trip or family vacation can attend an outdoors show every weekend. They can visit with guides, charter captains, resort owners and tourism people who have come to display what they have to offer, and try to convince you that what they are selling is perfect. Take a survey of all the resorts, travel destinations, fishing guides and charter services populating the booths, and ask them, “What’s the most-often-asked question they hear from show attendees?” They will answer, “What’s the best time to come?”

Whether the person being questioned is a resort owner in Canada or a fishing outfitter in Florida, it’s the toughest question a potential customer could ask. The operator needs more information.

Let me use a nearby resource (Lake Michigan) as an example. Let’s say the fall run of king salmon is going, and the fish are active. The number of fish caught is dictated more by the amount of time it takes to boat one of those behemoths, then get set up for another pass through the staging area. At the end of the trip, it’s hard to get the cooler shut, because there are so many whoppers in the box.

That has to be the best time to come, right? Perhaps. But remember, spawning run salmon are finicky and fickle. The very next day could be one which produces only one or two bites. Do you want to take the chance with these boom or bust conditions?

Perhaps the group includes a petite mother and an 8-year-old child. Mom may not be able to handle the power of a full-grown Chinook salmon. Junior might get tired, bored and grumpy if the last bite was 90 minutes ago. Dad might like it, but the others would have had much more fun in the spring, catching more, but smaller-sized fish.


Weather factors

There are many reasons to go fishing (or hunting, or mushroom picking, or….) besides catching fish (or bagging a pheasant or finding a morel.) I try to take a weather-break trip to somewhere far enough south each winter that I can forego wearing insulated boots and long underwear when I’m outdoors—often to Florida. No trip to Florida (for me) would be complete without having a fishing rod along or scheduling a fishing trip. It’s great!

The catching isn’t often great in the winter. A fish or two is the norm, sometimes none. I don’t go hoping to catch lots of fish. I go to be able to fish in the sun and warm weather. When I want to actually catch fish in Florida, I head south in the summer. That’s when I can pick from sea trout, tarpon, sailfish, snappers and most any other kind of fish Florida has to offer. But it’s hot, humid and rains almost daily. Which is the best time to go?

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Fish factors

Most lakes have several kinds of fish, and each species has a following. If you want to catch bluegills on most Wisconsin lakes, you’ll need to go at a different time of the season than if you want to catch walleyes or pike—or perch or rock bass or smallmouths. Don’t ask a guide, “When’s the best time to come?” before you tell him you what kind of fish you hope to catch.

Want to catch crappies at Patoka Lake, Ind.? Ask the Patoka Lake people when the crappie spawn usually happens. Want to catch a few big walleyes at Lake Erie, or lots of eater-sized fish? Almost every destination has good, better and best times for big fish; good, better and best for numbers of fish; and good, better and best when it comes to weather conditions. Seldom do the good, better and best times for all overlap.

My family has taken several summer vacations to Kentucky Lake in August. The fishing ranged from bad to terrible. The water was warm, the lake uncrowded and water skiing, tubing and other watersports were terrific—perfect for most of our group.

This is why this winter outdoor shows are great ways to plan your next fishing trip or vacation. There’s the opportunity to ask the guides, resort owners and destination representatives the right questions. Just don’t start with, “What’s the best time to come?” It’s always the “best time” for someone.



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