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 MaintenanceLoads 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.
(2) Learn Another New TechniqueFor 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.
(3) Learn From OthersEvery 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.
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.