For years, I assumed fishing had to be hard-core. Each trip I took included a minimum of two rods, and my backpack was always loaded to the brim with every bait and lure I owned. Sure, I enjoyed the excitement of feeling like a professional angler on a mission to catch the biggest and baddest fish, but this was a real burden when I simply wanted to decompress. Fishing became an additional stressor in my already demanding life, but I knew it didn’t have to be this way.
If you’ve read some of my recent posts, you may assume every fishing trip I take is some extravagant, well-off-the-beaten-path adventure; in reality, most of the time I spend fishing is at my neighborhood ponds, catching bass and bluegill in between school and sports. I adopted this casual style of fishing after I realized that not every outing has to be a banner day. Sometimes I simply use fishing as an excuse to get outside.
When I’m going on these quick trips, I like to stay super local. I have a number of ponds and small rivers at my disposal within walking and biking distance. If my top goal is to enjoy the outdoors, then why take another stuffy car ride when I could just step out my front door?
I carry with me only the necessities: a rod and reel (most often of the fly fishing variety), a pair of pliers, clippers, and if I know I’m going to be out for a while or fishing in a particularly snaggy spot, a couple extra lures or flies. No frills, no extra weight, and no stress. When I’m going on a quick outing, I prefer not to even bring a bag; instead, I carry the tools in my pockets and leave what doesn’t fit at home. In this way, I’m not burdened by heaps of unnecessary gear, and can truly leave stress behind with each cast I take.
As mentioned earlier, I don’t venture far from home on trips like these. The ponds near my house contain booming populations of cookie-cutter stunted bass which make for fun on light tackle. Although the excitement and anticipation of catching a big one is lacking, it’s comforting knowing I can always find a fish or two, no matter the season or conditions.
The other nice part about these ponds is the serenity during the off-season. During the heart of the summer, kayakers, hikers, and other anglers abound all times of the day. The state forest they are within is a destination for many recreationists, but the traffic quiets down a bit once the weather transitions to autumn and winter. On some fall evenings, I can enjoy the vibrant leaves, comfortable temperatures, and abounding fish without seeing another person the entire time. This is simple fishing at its best.
As days get shorter and the stresses of school and work start to build, take a few minutes and go for a tranquil fishing trip. No need to prepare for weeks or spend countless hours at the tying bench. Just grab a rod, step outside, and let the anxiety melt away.