It's that time of year. The time of year when we start to think about finally doing the things next year that we've put off for several years in the past. After the year we've collectively experienced, I think we'll all be glad hindsight is now officially 2020. But what are we going to do with 2021? If you're like me, you're more optimistic about a fresh start now than ever before. But still, resolutions are tough and they seem like rules at the time, which we all know were made to be broken.
But I think there are a few reasonable and doable New Year's resolutions we can set as anglers that will help make 2021 the best year we've had on the water. So depending on the type angler you are, you should be able to take at least one of these and apply it to your fishing in a sustainable way this new year.
Work on your weaknesses
Whether you're an angler who prefers shallow water or deep, power or finesse, muddy water or clear, there's always a weakness in every angler's game. That pursuit of excellence in all categories is what drives many of us to keep fishing and what makes fishing interesting. Still, we are bound to get in a rut, doing the same things in the same places with the same baits. This is particularly detrimental when the results start diminishing. Einstein once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results."
And you're not insane, right?
So how about this for a resolution. Spend at least one whole day on the water working on your weaknesses. The best way I've found to do this is the same method I use with any resolution: commit to it beforehand and leave yourself no option in the moment. What does this look like in practice? Say you're a big fan of power fishing. Take everything out of your boat except a couple spinning rods. Rig up a drop shot and a spybait and go fishing. You can catch almost any bass in the water column with one of those two baits.
But if you're like me and just tie one on one day to try, you'll throw it for 5 minutes and then go grab something else. Did you catch a fish in the first 5 minutes you ever through a squarebill? Highly unlikely. You have to commit to it and leave yourself no other option. The same holds true on the flip side. Big fan of finesse and offshore fishing? Take everything out of your boat except a squarebill and spinnerbait. Put one of those two in your hand and start down the bank. You will catch fish and you will find that forcing yourself to do this one time will pay dividends in the long run.
Lose 10 pounds
I know, I know. I'm sorry for even bringing this one up. But almost all of us could stand to lose 10 pounds and that's not a ridiculous goal to set for most of us either. If you're on the smaller side and don't need to lose weight, make this resolution about putting on a few pounds of muscle instead since that's typically a side effect of the exercise it'll take for the rest of us to lose weight. But as for the rest of us, with just a little concentrated effort and a month or so, most could shed 10 pounds. And you'd be shocked at the difference that will make in the way you feel on and off the water.
As some of you will know having read some of my previous articles, I've struggled with my weight over the years like many of you have. I've ridden the roller coaster and watched the yo-yo go up and down as my weight has fluctuated for more than a decade. Never in the midst of any of those waves have I felt worse when I was 10 pounds lighter. I find myself sleeping better, moving better, my back doesn't hurt as much and I'm able to fish more comfortably and longer when I'm out on the water.
Making the decision to lose weight is extremely difficult but that initial decision is by far the hardest part. I've found that weight loss is akin to most difficult things in my life because it's 90 percent mental. Once I make my mind up, get out of the way cause I'm about to tear some walls down. The same is likely the case for you and you'll also likely discover another truth I've found; that 10 pounds will just be a starting point. Once you get the ball rolling and see what a difference losing 10 pounds can make in the way you feel both physically and mentally, you'll keep going. But set the bar at 10 pounds for this New Year's resolution. Make it something achievable you can celebrate upon completion.
Do something different
I'm not talking technique here. I'm talking something different all together. Yes, we can get in a rut with our technique but with the constant jockeying for position among our fishing buddies and the seemingly endless pursuit to have all the latest and greatest fishing equipment, fishing can feel like running a marathon these days and it's easy for anglers to burn out. I've been there.
One way I've found to rekindle the old romance between me and the sport I love is to take a whole new approach towards it. For me, that was kayak fishing. I don't do it as much now as I did for awhile and I think it's important to note that I'm not suggesting you should sell everything you have and dive wholeheartedly into the sport of kayak fishing. Though some will do that, I found that kayak fishing was just the giant breath of fresh air that I desperately needed to reignite the flame that was quickly burning out.
The first time I set sail in a kayak with a fishing rod, I caught a little 2-pound spot that I would have boat flipped and quickly disregarded in my big boat. Instead, it was a battle royale in which I was not only fighting the fish but also the boat, my balance and what seemed like a hundred other variables all at once. The close quarters combat left me drenched from the fish's splashes and had my heart racing when I finally got my hands on it. It was exhilarating, like fishing should be but hadn't been for a long time.
Now I know some of you will say you have no interest in fishing out of a kayak and dismiss it without even a second thought. And though I don't recommend that, I do get it. I was that way for a long time. Still, maybe kayak fishing really isn't for you. There are several things you can apply this resolution to. Try fly fishing streams in the midwest or walking and wading small creeks in the south. Go wreck them on a pond for the first time in years. Even hunting can fall into this category. You'd be surprised what you can learn about the nature of things below the water by observing how animals behave above it. Just do something different to shake things up and make fishing exciting again.
New Year's resolutions are tricky. We tend to set unrealistic and lofty goals, hoping to correct some monumentous discrepancy in our lives. But by taking a realistic approach, we can set reasonable New Year's resolutions as anglers that will be for the betterment of our futures in fishing.
Want to get better at a certain technique or under a certain set of conditions? Do it by leaving yourself no other options. Tired of being sore and exhausted each time you go fishing? Put the work in to get in just a little better shape. Lost the love you once had for fishing? Take it out on a date somewhere new. Rekindle the romance. Just be careful your significant other doesn't get jealous when he or she sees you looking at that crankbait a certain way.