Going through all those Yellowstone photos from last year really got me itching to start planning this year’s trips. I’ve always enjoyed trip-planning. Sometimes the planning and anticipation turn out better than the trip itself. See for example the trip we took to the Tellico in November. Food poisoning, unseasonably cold weather, and frozen trout made for a fairly unsatisfactory trip. There is a part of the fisherman which revels in things like that and the story-telling it makes possible, but, really, you wish the fishing had been better. The planning however, which involved expectations of large spawning browns and big rainbows looking to fatten up for the winter, was pretty fun. Ideally both the planning and the fishing are fun, but you never can tell what’ll happen on the trip given weather, the unpredictability of modern transportation, and the gut-busting nature of most camp food. Most important is the fishing, but I’ve found that if all other concerns manage to remain untroublesome, the fishing doesn’t necessarily need to be legendary to make it a good (even great) trip. Just being out there, away from cell phones, email, traffic and fishing blogs is enough assuming, of course, you don’t find yourself sick, ducking into a ditch to avoid a tornado or being cavity searched at the airport on the way.
The single biggest fishing trip I’ve got planned this year is to Glacier National Park. It’ll be another big group outing similar to last year’s to Yellowstone. Glacier really isn’t high on my list of “must-fish” places, but there is fishing to be had, and it is on the somewhat less important list of “must-see” places. I really look forward to it. We’ll be driving out again, which certainly cuts into our time in the park, but there are advantages. There’s still something attractive about the long road trip. It feels more natural than flying. Plus it’s cheaper, less annoying (barring huge traffic delays), more comfortable, and you get to see a lot of unfamiliar country. We’ll alternate camping and hotels for a total of 8 full days inside the park. We plan to fish one or two forks of the Flathead, some of the streams inside the park, and a handful of the lakes. I’ve resolved to work at developing my photography skills during the trip. I usually take my photos during breaks or lulls in the action, and I’d like to make a targeted effort at improving this year. Of course, such resolutions are easily tossed if we come on a pod of hefty cutthroats rising to big mayflies. The fishing is my true love; photography just adds a little variety to the relationship.
Other than The Big Trip, there are several less ambitious (and less expensive) plans. I want to make an effort to go after large bass on Lake Guntersville with a fly rod. I know several secluded spots that are ideal for big bass bugs, and I’d like to hit the more popular spots at night. There’s this idea percolating in my mind for a new fly fishing technique that might be useful on Guntersville, but I’ll have to build a rod specifically for it. I’ll keep you posted. Then there’re all those small streams I meant to investigate last year, only a few of which I actually managed to explore. I had a blast with those, and I hope to pick up the pace a little this year. Feisty smallmouths beckon.
As for trout, I never did get around to making the long hike to a small stream in the Smokies I had my eyes on last spring. Amends will be made this year, assuming I can get myself in adequate shape. I plan to do more fishing in the Tellico area this year, and I’d like to hit at least a couple new tailwaters. I’ve been curious about this one NC stream just outside GSMNP. The problem is the long hike and heavy backpack required. Must get in shape…
What about farther out on the horizon? One of my dreams is to spend a summer fly fishing out West. That dream might become a reality sooner rather than later. I’ve already got a plan mapped out. Like I said, I really enjoy planning fishing trips.
What about you? Any big trips planned this year? Any goals for your home waters? Any dreams for the future?