Go the extra mile

Usually in this column I talk about catching giants. That’s what I love to do, and it’s what some of you love to do. But this time we’re going to talk numbers. Sometimes it’s great to catch lots and lots of bass — with a few other species mixed in — regardless of their size.

Unless you’re a professional feeding your family from bass fishing it really doesn’t matter how big the fish are that you catch. The important thing is that you have fun in the outdoors. That’s what the sport of bass fishing is all about. We don’t ever want to lose sight of that.

Back when I was a kid my dad worked as a firefighter. It was hard work and dangerous, too, but it had its advantages. As I recall he worked nine days a month, 24 hour shifts, but he had the other days off. We spent a lot of those days fishing. We didn’t go to the “hot” lakes, though. We went to those places where the other anglers didn’t.

A lot of the time we’d hike into places where we were the only ones there. Dad was in good shape, and I was just a kid so the long hikes with tackle and equipment didn’t seem like much. It was a part of the experience. We used belly boats and small aluminum boats sometimes but not always. It was just as likely we’d walk around the shore to fish because boats weren’t allowed.

I’ve had a lot of success over the years, caught several true giants, won some big tournaments and cashed some nice checks. But I’ve never had more fun than I had fishing with my dad in those backwoods lakes and rivers catching 2-pound bass, crappie, bluegills and catfish. I highly recommend a few of those types of trips to anyone and everyone.

If you want big numbers, and the occasional big fish, target places the other anglers won’t go, places that are so remote you have to walk to get there or where the ramps are little more than muddy ruts. Most of those places will handle a belly boat or a small, lightweight aluminum rig. If they won’t, walk the shore.

To be honest with you, nothing will replace my full-size Ranger. It’s a fishing platform like no other — efficient, comfortable and reliable. I love it to death, but there are places where it won’t go.

It’s hard to launch a boat like mine from a muddy, unimproved ramp and you sure can’t carry it over a deer trail. But that shouldn’t keep you from going the extra mile and taking advantage of some of the backwoods fishing that’s available to anyone who’s willing to make the effort to get there.

By the way: Ranger makes some fine, aluminum boats. And they don’t cost an arm and a leg, either. Some of them are perfect for what I’m talking about. Check ‘em out.  

Go the extra mile. You’ll have a heck of a lot of fun.