Whether you take your truck, your RV, boat, or are traveling across the country, planning a fishing trip can be stressful, which isn’t the point of the trip! So here are some tips for you to be ready to have a successful trip full of fish, and devoid of stress.
1. Know Your Location
Knowing your locations applies to a lot of different considerations:
- What is the weather forecast? Rainy? Windy? Temperature? These are major factors that will effect not only your comfort, but the fishing.
- What species are there, and which are you targeting? This will change your gear setup, your flies, and a lot more.
- Does the area have local fishing guides?
- Will the area be busy when you go there? Parking? Will the best spots be taken? Maybe you need to get our there early in the AM.
- Is their grocery stores nearby? Restaurants? Fly shop or store for supplies?
- How are the water levels at your location? Is there a source where you can check the water flows to make sure they are good before you go? Water temperatures as well.
If you think about all of these items ahead of time, you are far more likely to get yourself on fish, be safe, and have a better time.
2. Hire A Fishing Guide
We understand that this may be out of your fishing trip budget, and that is perfectly okay. But, if you have a little extra budget for your trip, hiring a guide is one of the best things you can do. You’ll be supporting a local organization, you’ll likely learn a ton about the area you are fishing (making your other days there more productive), you’ll get to experience a river with someone taking you to the best spots, helping you, and that has a job to make your experience great.
One of the fastest ways to gain fishing knowledge is from someone that knows a lot. A fishing guide, when within budget, is almost always a great idea. Check out our fly fishing guide directory to find a guide near you or fill out our guided fishing form.
3. Pack Good Food (Or have food Plans)
Food can make or break a trip. Before heading on site, you should have food plans set out. At a minimum, you need to know if you need to bring all of your food, or if you can leverage local restaurants or grocery stores for where you are traveling. Even if you have dinners planned each day, you are going to want some high quality snacks, and lunches while you are on the river. We of course always recommend bringing some healthy snacks, or backpacking food for longer journeys, but sometimes it is nice to bring some items to indulge on.
4. Research The River Conditions And Hatches
You should know if the water is high, low, warm, or cold. Knowing your conditions will help you catch more fish, but more importantly, if this is even a good destination or not. If a river is blown out, a lake is frozen, or the water is too warm, fishing conditions might not be conducive to actually catching fish. You should know this ahead of time. USGS generally has data on most bodies of water, but if not, call up a nearby fly shop to see what they are saying about the local conditions. Facebook groups are also great resources as most areas have local groups with individuals who are willing to help answer questions about river or lake conditions.
If a hatch is expected, you’ll probably want to bring flies to match that hatch. Simply put, being aware of conditions will make it more likely you end up on fish.
5. Bring The Right Gear
This is a broad statement, and ties very closely into knowing the conditions, location, and weather beforehand. If it is going to be cold, or might rain, you better have a rainjacket. If you are going to be baking in the sun all day, you better have sunscreen and sunglasses.
It is always a best practice to bring a backup rod in case something happens and a rod snaps. It does happen, and a backup will save your trip. If you plan on fishing in different conditions or different bodies of water, having the right rods, reels, and rigging materials will be key so that you can have the optimal setup for any conditions you may experience.
Don’t forget about a first-aid kit and sunscreen. Be careful when handling hooks and the hooked fish, so that you don’t end up hurting yourself. Everyone has hooked themselves at some point, you’ll be happy you have a first aid kit when you do. It’s also important to stay hydrated, so bring plenty of water. Try to avoid direct sunlight and search areas where there is shade. Keep your snacks nearby and sufficient food supplies, if you are taking a longer fishing trip.
These rules are even more true when you are out on a boat, it’s very important to be prepared for wind, rain, or other situations that may arise.
- enough flies
- enough tippet material
- a backup rod
- a windproof and waterproof layer.
- first aid kit
- water storage
6. Know The Rules & Regulations
Be a responsible fisherman and make sure you have acquired the proper fishing license, as well as follow all rules and regulations for where you are fishing. Many areas have catch and release only laws, barbless hook laws, artificial lures only, catch limits, size limits, and open and closed seasons. Make sure you know these rules, and follow them for the water bodies you’ll be visiting.
Every state has a government site in which you should be able to find the regulations. If you can’t, call a local guide to help answer questions.
7. Bring A Camera
We always recommend bringing a camera. It doesn’t have to be a fancy DSLR, it can be a GoPro, your iPhone, or any device that takes semi decent pictures. If you catch a monster, you are going to want to document it. Even if you don’t, taking pictures will help you hold that memory forever. You’ll never regretted bringing a camera, only not having one when you truly want it.
8. Prepare Your Gear Before You Leave
When you are in a rush to leave, you will inevitably forget things. That’s why we always suggest being fully packed the night before you leave, or hours before you leave.
Someone that is prepared ahead of time will be more likely to have everything they need, and likely even bring some added comfort items that will make your trip more enjoyable. The goal is never to add more stress, and packing ahead of time will absolutely reduce your stress.
This includes everything you are taking with you on your trip, from permits to snacks. Make sure your permit/license is kept in a safe spot, away from water damage potential. Have at least some extra tackle and extra rods at hand. If you’re planning a longer fishing trip, especially on a boat, a portable freezer, like the one from Dometic, or coolers can be hugely valuable for storing quality meals.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about