Ron’s Fishing Tips and Stories: Getting the Most From Your International Fishing Trip
This week’s fishing tip is aimed at the traveling fisherman but parts of it will certainly apply to people who fish close to home. My intention is to try and help traveling fishermen make sure they get their money’s worth out of their international fishing trip. As you might know, prices are going up on everything and all of us want to always get a dollar’s worth for a dollar spent.
Please remember that I have been a traveling fisherman for over 50 years and have learned a ton from guys who I have come in contact with on these trips. Sometime during the 1970s I started traveling with a good friend I had met during one of my guide trips on Cedar Creek Lake in Texas. His name is Chuck.. Chuck was a very well traveled and well educated man who was raised in the North. We became close friends and we started traveling together to Texas lakes and then to Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras and other countries. Even though Chuck offered to pay my way, I insisted on paying for my trips, which meant a lot of saving in hard times for me. Thank goodness I learned from Chuck and his world travels how to always get your money’s worth out of a trip.
On our first trip to Canada, Chuck and I went to Dogskin Lake. Fishing was good, but a little slow. We drew a room next to 5 car dealers from Dallas. The guys were pretty raunchy and raising a lot of hell. They kept all to themselves and had little to do with us. After our great shore lunch we lay down on the mattress of peat moss for a nap. When I woke up, Mr. Sophisticated Old Money Chuck was gathering up moose dung and putting it into a bag. I asked him “What in the devil are you going to do with all that sh–?” He simply said, “Wait and see.” We arrived in camp before the car dealers and Chuck went straight to their room. One of their group was a carbon copy of Junior Sample on HEE HAW. Well, Junior’s bed got the dung under the covers. Chuck just went on about his business at supper and then we went to bed. In about 30 minutes all hell broke loose in the next room. Junior was trying to fight with his buddies and mad as hell. I am scared to death and have all the covers over my head in case they think we did it. Oh my god how we did laugh about that for years, but please don’t go to that extreme to have fun.
In 1974 Chuck and I traveled to Canada to fish for trophy-size walleye. Virgil Ward and I had made a lot of TV shows together and Virgil told me that the Tree River in October had more trophy-size walleye than any place he had ever been. He said the fish began to migrate up river during this month and 9 & 10 LB walleyes were common. Chuck and I flew 3 different airlines to get to this lodge. Upon arrival we found an empty lodge that had not been cleaned in quite some time. The restaurant had trash on the floor and I was very upset. The owner finally showed up and I gave him a real piece of my mind. He explained that it was the end of the season and he had not had any clients in several weeks and when we left he was closing down. Man oh man was I upset. We had supper and got instructions about the next day’s fishing.
That night Chuck sat me down and gave me some very good advise that has stuck with me all these years. Chuck said that there is no such thing as a perfect trip of any kind, that you must turn negatives into positives if you are going to get your money’s worth from the trip. If you get upset then you just lost your money and will return home very unhappy and upset. He also said no matter how bad things get, keep smiling and don’t let the bast—- get you down. When you go to leave, smile and shake the owner’s hand and just don’t ever go back.
That advise was tested to the maximum when our guide showed up the next morning in a pickup and we were transported in the back to a big lake. We launched the boat and headed for a big cove. The guide drooped over the troller in the back of the boat and started running the boat backwards. Chuck and I just looked at one another but I kept my mouth shut so as to not embarrass Chuck. I watched the guy closely and he was fishing a huge daredevil spoon. He would throw the spoon in shallow water to dark images that were northern pike. He put the spoon over their back then he would jerk like hell and try to snag the fish in the back. Chuck and I were just throwing our walleye lures in every direction to no avail. After this knothead of a guide finally caught a snagged fish of about 15lb I asked the guide if we were going to fish big walleyes in the River and he said not today–that we would go early the next morning. He said he had entered a big fish tournament for Northerns and he had paid entry fee and he didn’t want to lose his money.
Man oh man did I want to unload on him but remembered what Chuck had told me the night before so I kept quite. I was determined to talk to the owner at lunch and get another guide for the afternoon. Just before lunch this guide caught a pretty nice northern in the back and got him in the boat. The first thing this __&&%%$$##@@ guide did was to start stuffing sinkers, small bait fish he had brought with him, and I don’t know what else. We fired up the engine and went about 2 miles to the weigh-in and his fish weighed 21 lbs — sinkers and all.
We went back to the camp where I asked the owner for another guide and he told me he didn’t have another guide for the afternoon but would have one for the morning. We went to our cabin to rest but I couldn’t as I was thinking about what I was going to do in the afternoon to get my money’s worth for that day. I remembered that our guide was jerking the spoon very hard and most of the time the spoon sailed up and over the fish back. Many times he would reel in the spoon and a fish scale would be hooked on to one of the hooks. That gave me a great idea. I had made up some pieces of lead with regular trebles for doodle socking bass in Guerrero Lake in Mexico. I looked in my tacklebox and found one huge treble hook that I was going to use as a gaff hook when I got back. I took off the regular hook and put on the huge hook on the lead that weighed about 2 oz. Heavy!!
We headed back to the lake and off we went looking for big northerns sunning in the shallow water. I couldn’t wait!!!! We pulled into a cove and here we go backwards, he is running the troller and pays no attention to me as I moved up behind him. We spotted a Huge fish laying on the bottom in about 3 ft of water. Before he could shut off the troller and get his rod I moved just a little to the right and pitched an underhanded cast right by him and the lead landed about 3 inches on the back side of the big fish. I lowered my rod and jerked like hell, the huge fish shot out to the right stripping line like a 22 bullet and the battle was on. The guide just sat with his mouth open not moving. He didn’t know what to think. It seemed like an hour but I finally boated the big fish. It weighed 24 lbs but the best part was now the guide took my place at being upset. Then he got the idea of weighing in my fish and saying he had caught it. Man oh man was he upset when I told him not in a million years would I let him cheat with my fish.
The rest of the afternoon I caught 2 more while the guide caught zero. After a while, he asked to go in early as he “wasn’t feeling well.” Sorry but I was feeling great, great, great! Six months later I got a patch from Canada declaring me a master angler on Northern Pike. I felt good but I did return the patch.
I hope you enjoyed the story but now let me get to the nuts and bolts of my whole point. When you take a travel fishing trip don’t let the fish determine whether you have a good time. You just can’t put all your hopes on those slimy green unpredictable creatures. The whole trip is an experience in meeting new people, traveling with friends and enjoying their company, interaction with the camp help, guides, etc. Ask a few questions about the local area and the history. Years ago I would tell our clients that if the transport has a flat then get outside and pitch pennies at a line to help pass the time. It’s better than getting all red-faced and blowing a gasket when you can’t speed up things at all by getting upset.
In closing, let me say this and I hope it helps you turn every fishing trip into a good time and you get your money’s worth every time. IF YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME TO GO FISHING DETERMINED TO HAVE A GOOD TIME YOU WILL HAVE A GOOD TIME. Remember what 4x bass classic champion Rick Clun says about his bass fishing. He said that I AM ONLY SUCCESSFUL 33% OF THE TIME BASS FISHING. That means that he only catches his limit or catches what he desires on one trip out of three trips.
I wish you all lots of luck with your fishing…and HAVE A GOOD TIME!