By Nick Hammond
IMPROMPTU trips are often the most memorable and rewarding.
But when you’re heading off on a fishing trip in the US, it pays to plan just a little ahead. Our trip list of ten key things to get right before you leave will set you up.
First and foremost is your destination. Whether you’ve just had enough of sitting in the office and have the uncontrollable urge to grab your rod and head for the great outdoors, or you’re planning a multi-state fishing trip of a lifetime, you need to decide exactly where you’ll cast a line.
If you haven’t got a favourite local haunt or are planning a US fishing trip, then you’ll need to do some research. The best testimonials usually come by word of mouth from people you can trust. If friends and colleagues have been on fishing trips before and extolled their virtues, then take advantage and chat to them. Find out what they liked and didn’t like, places they’ve been and places they’ve heard of. Utilise the expertise of magazine writers and get inspiration online. And, of course, you can always grab a cup of coffee and spend a few minutes browsing Eagle Review, where there are thousands of US fishing opportunities available.
Whether you’ve always dreamed of hooking a Bass in Gettysburg or fancy trying your hand at tossing a fly for Tarpon in the Florida Keys, Eagle Review can help. And whichever you choose – you’ll need to consider some fundamentals.
Next – make a list. It sounds simple, but it’s advice all good planners abide by. When you consider your dream fishing trip in the US, write down exactly what you’d like to achieve. If you’re not sure from the outset what you’re dream fishing trip will look like – how is anyone else supposed to know?
What type of fishing are you looking for?
Where will it take place, exactly? (Stillwater, river, lake, sea? By boat, from the bank?)
What equipment will I need? Can I hire it from the venue or am I best advised to bring my own?
These are the sort of questions you will start with – and by the time you’ve considered all the options, you may have a mighty long list in front of you! Never fear; these can be ticked off or removed as time goes by, but be pedantic now and you’ll save time and trouble later.
Don’t be too ambitious, or pair yourself up with an experienced team of anglers ‘above your pay grade.’ If your trip is with a group of accomplished anglers, and you’re a novice, chances are that they’ll want to get to get on and get hooking the fish, rather than spending time with you teaching you how to tie your fly.
If you’re overly ambitious or prescriptive in your needs, you’re setting yourself up for a fall. By all means be demanding in getting what you want – but make sure what you want is realistic. If you want to try and hook a Great White Shark on a fly rod, don’t be surprised if you have a lean fishing trip. But if you want to dial in some Bluefish off Cape Cod, you’re more likely to have fish-filled fun.
How far do you want to travel? Are you happy to hop on a plane and scoot across the US or is a five-hour drive to your destination a more realistic outlook? How are your sea legs? If you’re on a small boat in a deep swell and you haven’t told your Guide you’re a sufferer from seasickness, more fool you. It’s a mistake you won’t make twice.
Make sure your health is up to the trip. If you and a pal are simply taking a flask and some sandwiches (and maybe a cold one or two) on board a small row boat to catch a few trout in Maine, you’ll have a fine old time. But don’t book a trip traipsing the pools in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park if you’re not up to a hike or two.
Of course, you’ll need to set your budget. Fishing trips in the US adhere to the worldwide wisdom that, in general, you get what you pay for. So, agree what you’re willing to pay and then see what the market can offer you.
If you speak to agents and owners and others who are likely to profit from your trip, take time to check their bona fides. Be aware of small inconsistencies; of changing plans, differing accounts of the same story. These can often be giveaway signs that your contact is flaky. It’s best to learn that now and bow out gracefully than find yourself stranded in a freezing fishing lodge in the middle of nowhere.
Make sure your trip agent, guide or operator is fully registered, insured and compliant. You’re perfectly within your rights to ask to see a copy of his or her insurance. And don’t be afraid to ask for references.
If he or she is worth their salt, they’ll have scores if not hundreds of happy clients behind them, and will be more than willing to allow them to do their marketing. So, call a few up and get their opinion on the trip, their host and whether or not they would go back again.
And while you’re getting into the nitty gritty, make sure you are covered and legal, too. Are you and your equipment insured? If you break a leg and need a medical evacuation from a remote area, who’s paying for it?
Finally, read the small print before signing anything. Think back to your initial list and the reasons you wanted to go on a fishing trip in the US in the first place. Does the contract you’ve been sent reflect this? (And if you haven’t been sent a contract – ask yourself why not!)
Your time off is precious; you’ve worked hard for your money. Do your research into your fishing trip in the US and you’ll come home with memories for a lifetime.