by Bob Jensen
I think my open water fishing trips for 2015 are over. As I was storing some of my open water equipment recently I got to thinking: This last season of fishing was pretty darn good!
Then I got to thinking more: The past few fishing seasons have been pretty good! In fact, I consider the fishing that many of us have available to us now could, in many places, be thought of as outstanding! Here’s what I mean.
I fish mostly in the Midwest states. When I think of fishing now, on the average, compared to fishing thirty years ago, there really is no comparison, especially for large and smallmouth bass, walleyes, and muskies. We’re catching more and bigger ones now than we used to.
I hear of places like Falcon and Amistad lakes in Texas, and the Delta in California, and on and on. Huge bass, and lots of ’em. I keep thinking that I need to get to those places, but then I think of a lake closer to home that’s supposed to be good, so I go there instead.
There are a couple of reasons why fishing in many parts of North America is improving. The first thing is management. Implementation of progressive regulations has improved fishing in many, many areas. For instance, on a good number of waters, the minimum legal length to keep a musky is fifty inches, and in some places it’s even higher. On those bodies of water there are a lot of big muskies caught.
Same thing with bass. There are a few lakes where you can keep one bass a day, and it must be over twenty inches. You don’t take very many bass home, but you sure do catch a lot of nice ones.
The other thing that has helped fishing improve is the advancement in equipment and fishing knowledge. Simply put, there are a bunch more anglers today that are very good anglers, and they’re using a lot better equipment.
Consider walleye knowledge and walleye catching: Thirty years ago most walleye anglers thought that walleyes were a bottom-hugging fish all the time. Now we know that walleyes will suspend, and if we run a spinner or crankbait behind a planer board we can catch them.
The electronics we use today are marvelous compared to what we used twenty five years ago. They draw a color picture of the bottom of your lake below your boat and out to the side. Through the use of mapping chips, they’ll show you exactly where you are on the lake, and they’ll show you the route to take to get back to the boat ramp.
Fishing rods are so much better and more affordable than they used to be. The first graphite rods I used were clubby and cost a hundred bucks. Now, you can get a much better rod for less money.
The boats and motors are safer and more efficient now, and they’re a lot more reliable, which means we can go to areas that we didn’t feel comfortable going to “back in the day”.
There are some areas of concern in our fisheries, but I’m confident that we’ll get those things figured out. I’m also confident the “good old days” of fishing are going to continue for quite a while.