New Year's Resolutions

2022: What went right. What went wrong. What we'd like to change.

by Craig Ritchie

It's the time of year when many of us like to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year, think about what went right, what went wrong, and what we'd like to change. While most people focus their new year's resolutions on things like losing weight or getting in shape, I think more in terms of fishing.

Finding a couple of simple things to work on each year - and then making a real attempt to do so - helps make me a better angler, and it keeps things interesting by preventing my trips out on the water from falling into a rut.

So with this year drawing to a close, here's my list of new year's resolutions.

(1) Do More Tackle Maintenance

Loads of things happen over the course of a fishing season - hooks get bent, tackle trays get disorganized, metal lures dull with water dirt and water spots, and we magically accumulate bag after bag of soft plastics with only one or two baits left. I'm embarrassed to admit how many crankbaits in my box already have a bit of old line tied to the eyelet from the last time they were used.
A nice box of jigs, but look at all the dull hooks! That won't do, so I'll deal with those while watching hockey on those long winter nights.
Of course, winter is a great time to catch up on all this stuff, but my first new year's resolution is to devote time to keeping my tackle in top shape through the season as well. Devoting an hour or two each week to keeping my gear in order will be fun, and will ensure I don't miss any more fish in the year ahead because of dull hooks, faulty snaps or other tackle issues that could have been easily prevented. And it doesn't have to be a chore - I can easily respool with fresh line or polish spoons and spinners while watching TV, so I won't even miss out on my favourite shows.

(2) Learn Another New Technique

For most of my life I've been a mediocre fly fisherman. Last year I committed to change that, and on several days I headed out with only a fly rod in hand. Not just for trout, but for bass, crappies, pike and muskie too. That forced me to learn fast, and it worked - by the end of the season I was catching far more fish and having a lot more fun at it than I was at the beginning of the year. I'm still a mediocre fly fisherman compared to people who are passionate about it, but at least I can now spend more time unhooking fish than unhooking my own ears. I also learned a lot of things that extend beyond fly fishing, and apply to fishing with traditional tackle as well.
I've never done a whole lot of planer board trolling, but maybe it's time to explore that? Pick one new technique to learn this year and your skills as an angler can only improve.
There are always new techniques and approaches to try, and taking the time to learn new skills always pays benefits. Besides that, it's fun to keep our brains challenged. The new year is a perfect time to learn a new technique. Find something you're weak at and make that weakness a strength. You can't help but become a more skilled and more confident angler as a result.

(3) Learn From Others

Every person in the world has their own way of doing things, and it's almost a sure thing there are some things they do better than you do. In a 40+ year career as an outdoor writer, I've travelled all over the world and fished with hundreds of different people. That's not only been a whole lot of fun and allowed me to make a lot of new friends, but it's also been a great learning experience as well.

If you really want to up your game as an angler, go fishing with people you've not fished with before, and watch what how they go about doing even basic things. Talk about fishing and listen to what they have to say. It's just amazing how many great tips you can pick up.

It is amazing how much you can learn from others, whether it's a casual outing with a new friend or a day with a professional guide. Fish with more people and you can't help but pick up a few new tricks.
If you really want to fast-track this, hire a pro guide and spend a day on the water focused on something specific. When I wanted to learn more about fishing for muskies with surface baits, I found a guide who specialized in this and promptly booked him for a weekend. I watched, listened, and asked a ton of questions - and learned more in two days than I would have figured out on my own in a full season or more. It's an ideal way to sharpen your skills, so I'll definitely be looking to fish with some new people this year.

So those are my three new year's resolutions - pay more attention to keeping my tackle in tip-top shape, learning a new technique (I don't know much about bottom trolling for channel cats) and learning from others (maybe a couple of good catfish guides?). If you want to really grow as an angler, make your own list of new year's resolutions and resolve to see it through. Keep your list short, so it's attainable, and focus on realistic things you can do. You'll be amazed how much more fun you have on the water, and how much better an angler you become as a result.

Author Craig Ritchie
Craig Ritchie
About the author:
Over a near 40-year career as a full-time outdoor writer, Craig Ritchie has fished all over the globe for a variety of freshwater and saltwater species. The author of The Complete Guide To Getting Started In Fishing, he has written thousands of articles for magazines, websites and newspapers worldwide, appeared as a guest on several television fishing programs and won numerous awards for his writing and photography. He lives in the Great Lakes region where great fishing is as close as his own back yard.

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