How on earth can you be realistic on a fishing trip away from home?
The fact that a group of six UK anglers headed over to Ireland just the other day and landed three double figure bass between them will create a certain amount of "holy cow I want a piece of that for myself" amongst lure anglers who have heard about those fish and who are willing and able to take fishing holidays that revolve around getting away from your regular fishing haunts. I also have a suspicion that this little blog of mine might have helped a few anglers decide where to take a fishing holiday, and if that is the case, well that just about makes my day.
The fact is I have always travelled with my work and I just can't do the same stuff all the time. If there is one thing that I am constantly aware of though, it's how difficult it can be to manage expectations when you organise a fishing holiday, look forward to it perhaps for months and months on end, and then you get there only to find that it isn't actually a case of silly numbers of big fish wanting to do no more than crawl their way up your line and then sit there for a nice photo!!
Let's say you do your homework, you pick a week or so of what are decent tides at a potentially good time of year, you book your travel and accommodation, you either know the area pretty well already or you do some research into learning what you can about the place, and away you go - only for it all to go a bit wrong and you end up heading for home with a heavy heart and a sense of why on earth didn't it fire like it seems to for everybody else - which of course it doesn't, but that is how it can feel when the fishing has given you a kicking.
The problem if you like with fishing away from home is that we tend to put unrealistic expectations on the experience, as in because we are anglers and we are for the most part eternal optimists, we sort of think that the "rules" of fishing just fly out of the window because we aren't going to be fishing our regular jaunts. I understand why we do this, hell I still do it to this day - but I think that as much as I can't help but get excited about what might happen on a fishing trip away, I have learnt to be far more realistic and I suppose simply take what happens and roll with it.
A few of us headed over to north west Florida last year, fully expecting to smash a heap of big tarpon on the fly, albeit I was along as a photographer. When this part of the world fishes it's insanity. We'd seen the photos and videos, we'd read the reports, and yes, excitement levels were boiling over - and we copped an unfortunate one big time. Conditions conspired to kill the tarpon fishing stone dead and there wasn't a thing we could do about it. Just because we travelled half way round the world to a place where the fishing can be insane doesn't automatically mean it's going to be awesome when we get there. You can't control conditions, and travelling away from home doesn't make anything any fairer!!
You can't get away from it - as much as so many of us love these fishing trips away, they are hugely unrealistic. You're away from home with all the time in the world to actually fish, so by hell you're going to fish hard, conditions be damned. And if there is one species that really needs the right conditions to make the fishing for them fire, it's got to be bass. Take that awesome trip to Ireland those six Brits have just had - sure, they caught a few serious bass, but imagine if they hadn't a clue what to try around Tramore when the open coast is blown out. Different trip?
They all know what they are doing yet they got some tough conditions, and whilst they didn't catch a heap of bass because conditions were against them, three doubles is some serious stuff - it was a trip that I am sure they had all been looking forward to for ages, but what on earth can you do but hope and hope that conditions will be in your favour for the time you have booked to go? And then when the conditions aren't ideal, it's all about using your heads and making good decisions on what to do (no different to fishing at home), which let's be honest they did in style. All credit, and of course to a certain bloke who owns Absolute Fishing in Tramore who I know does all he can to help visiting anglers.
I think back to my last trip over to Ireland in September - we caught some good fish and I got plenty of photographs that I needed, but in reality if you had given me the conditions we had but now on my local marks, I reckon I might have fished say two or three sessions over that period. What I mean is that we were in Ireland and away from home so of course we went lure fishing for bass almost regardless of the conditions. We pooled our knowledge and experience to try and come up with good solutions to the conditions we got each day, but over time I have learnt how to be far more realistic.
Think about it like this as well - if you actually lived there and could call those waters your local jaunts, would you have been out bass fishing with lures as much as us visitors will do because that of course is what a trip away is all about? And yes, fishing is fishing and there is always that chance of landing the sort of fish you know the place is capable of producing almost whatever the conditions. The trick then is making the right calls when conditions do come together.............
One thing though that I will never have any sympathy for is anglers going fishing away from home but not doing any research beforehand - simply turn up and expect to smash fish almost regardless of tides, conditions and location. I don't get it. Would you fish like that at home? You can't expect less well known locations to be handed out like sweets, but wow is there so much research we can do ourselves these days, but then I suppose I have never understood people who don't ask questions and don't want to learn. It's fun learning about new places is it not?