December 13, 2019
2020 is just around the corner. It’ll be here before you know it.
If you’re like me, you have family already planning vacations to New Orleans, Florida, and beyond. Already dreaming of warmer weather and where to put a pin in their “Where We’ve Been” map.
Me? I’m planning where our family is fishing when we travel next year. Fishing is an essential part of every family vacation, and we always attempt a fun twist to the adventure. Either a fishing tournament or a new fishing technique. Last year it was salmon fishing in Alaska. This year we’re heading to New Orleans in early June. And you can bet I’ll be chartering a redfish trip for my crew.
How do I plan my family’s next fishing trip? Here are 5 easy steps:
As with any family vacation, the first step is deciding where you’re going. For my family, we know that New Orleans is our destination. And lucky for us, there are tons of options for our fishing adventure. We could fish Lake Pontchartrain, the Mississippi Delta, or the Gulf of Mexico. (Honestly, we’ll probably plan a few days of fishing and do it all).
Once you determine where you’re traveling then you can look for nearby freshwater, saltwater, or brackish fishing opportunities. Unless you’re traveling to the desert, there’s bound to be a pond, river, lake, bay, or ocean nearby.
Florida is a fantastic fishing destination, there’s a bit of everything available for your family, often within an hour’s drive. Other options include anywhere along the Gulf Coast or the beautiful Great Lakes in the midwest. Wherever your travels take you this upcoming year, there’s a fishing spot just waiting for you.
Once you have discovered local fishing spots (rivers, lakes, bays, oceans), you’ll be able to determine your fishing opportunities. Will you be pier fishing in the Outer Banks, surfcasting in Texas, trolling on Lake Michigan, or bottom fishing the Puget Sound? The choices are limitless.
Pier and surfcasting opportunities are available throughout most coastal cities and are great for those who don’t have access to a boat. There are some fantastic piers across the country, and oftentimes you’ll be able to fish without a license (the only cost is an entry fee). Make sure to check fishing regulations of the state you’re visiting before heading out. If you do need a fishing license, a daily or multi-day license is usually less than $20.
One of the biggest lessons our family has learned throughout the years is to have realistic expectations when it comes to what we’re catching. We’ve learned we can’t keep snapper in the winter in the Gulf of Mexico (unless fishing in Texas). And rockfish in Chesapeake Bay is catch-and-release to help preserve the dwindling population.
Throughout our years of family fishing vacations, we’ve learned to ask the local bait & tackle shop or charter captain for what’s biting before our trip. That way we can have realistic expectations and still get excited about the day’s adventure.
If you go fishing with the idea that you only want to catch mahi mahi, and then learn that the mahi mahi bite has become nonexistent for the season, it puts a bit of a damper on the day. If you really want that mahi mahi: plan your vacation around the species’ peak season. Head to Florida in April to take advantage of the largemouth bass spawning season. Or Galveston Bay in the Fall to take advantage of the redfish migration. Spending the few minutes it takes to research your destination’s peak fishing season will yield hours of excitement for the whole family.
Or, just ask what’s in season while you’re in town. Maybe the tarpon have continued their migration further south, but the snook and spotted seatrout bite is on fire. As long as your trip is filled with constant bites and screaming drag, your family will be heading back to the docks with unbelievable pictures and life-long memories.
If you find yourself in a new location with a new-to-you species in season, make a game out of it! Or try a new-to-you technique. My family likes to switch things up a bit to make things interesting.
Or we’ll do a fishing tournament. Challenges include quickest catch, biggest catch, smallest catch, silent catch (no talking until a fish is on the line), or something similar. One time we had a “Questions Only” challenge: meaning contestants could only speak in questions until a fish was on the line. Most of us failed. But it was amazing and fun, and we’re still talking about it to this day.
Memories are made on family fishing trips. Adding a bit of a fun twist or challenge just makes the memories that more special. When you’re planning your family fishing vacation, be sure to add a fun twist to keep things interesting!
The last step is getting everything ready. You can either plan to pack your own fishing gear, or hire a local charter that will have everything for you. FishAnywhere can help you find a local guide at the best price, just start with a search of the city you’re traveling to this year.
Be sure to ask the captain about cleaning and filleting your catch. Some will even package your catch to keep for a later date, or point you towards a local restaurant that will cook your catch. Our family loves this second option as it’s another chance to check out local restaurants.
No matter where you’re traveling next year, adding a fishing trip should be part of your plans. It’s a great family activity, certain to make a lifetime of memories. If you are considering hiring a local fishing guide, I recommend booking your fishing trip at the same time you make your lodging reservations. The Captains and Guides will have a full schedule before you know it, especially if you’re traveling to a top tourist destination. Book your 2020 family fishing vacation and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
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