Avoiding the crowds on Memorial Day

Before we get into how I avoided the holiday crowds while fishing this weekend, I want to recognize all the men and women who have served and died in our military.

Originally, Memorial Day was supposed to be a day to recognize veterans who died in the line of duty. Over time it morphed into something much broader. First, it expanded to include all veterans and then later to include all of our loved ones who have passed. There’s nothing wrong with any of those expansions but it’s important to remember how it began.

Regardless of how we celebrate it, the facts about our military remain the same. Without a strong armed forces — made strong by our men and women who are serving and who have served — we’d be in bad shape when it comes to our freedoms. Those freedoms are the reason some of us can run around the country fishing for a living. We owe all our veterans, dead or alive, a deep appreciation for what they have done.

Now, let’s talk about how to avoid the dreaded crowds on the water on this important day. First, find a ramp that’s out of the way and needs some maintenance. Most of the people launching boats for the first time this year need room and modern facilities. All bass anglers need is a narrow, semi-paved surface that drops off into the water.

I found just such a place last Saturday morning on Lake Erie and had a wonderful time smallmouth fishing. My area of the lake was relatively open, and I was able to catch fish until the wind drove me off the lake. I can’t find a way to blame that on the party crowd, try as I might.

On Sunday I fished a local lake near Columbus that has a 10-mph speed limit on it. The low speed limit keeps the lake clear of recreational traffic regardless of the holiday. Most fun boaters want to go fast. Fishermen don’t need speed. They need fish. I found a bunch of them with no interference whatsoever.

And then on Monday I launched at another local lake. This one had a 10-horsepower limit on it. That accomplished the same thing. When’s the last time you saw a boat with a 10-horse outboard powering it? It’s been a while, I’m sure.

These solutions will require a little research on your part. You have to look around in advance and maybe study a map along the way. If you’ll do that, however, you’ll be rewarded with tranquil holiday fishing. And, as an added bonus, you’ll find offbeat, out of the way places close to home that hold a surprising number of big bass. It’s win-win all the way.

I mention this even though Memorial Day is past and summer is in full swing. We still have the Fourth of July and Labor Day coming up. If you’ll follow my suggestions, you can fish those holidays to your heart’s content. 

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