Do a web search to plan a fishing vacation and you will find hundreds of thousands of sites. Planning a fishing vacation, whether to your local lake for a day or off to Belize for a 15 day exotic excursion, can be a trying experience. How do you narrow down the choices to find the fishing destination that is right for you?
After all, "fishing is not a matter of life and death, it is much more important than that."
The best way to select a fishing destination is to begin by identifying your priorities. Is this to be a warm weather experience, or do you prefer to go ice fishing? Do you want to fish Saltwater (surf, deep sea, reef) or Freshwater (lake, stream, river, etc.)? How many anglers are joining you, or are you a single angler?
If you are going as part of a group, it would be a good idea to sit down with everyone else who is going and discuss precisely what it is that each person wants out of the experience. It is not enough to simply decide you want great fishing, because that can mean very different things to different people.
Does great fishing mean catching a fish on nearly every cast, or catching only one fish all day--provided that one fish was a giant? And what constitutes a "giant" to you? Would a 20-pound chinook salmon make you happy, or would it have to be a 50-pounder?
What fish species are you interested in fishing for? Although this sounds like an overly simplistic question, it definitely needs to be discussed if this is to be a successful group outing. Do you want to catch lake trout, walleye, northern pike, bass, salmon? If members of the group have different ideas, you should pick a location with multiple species.
What is your preferred method of fishing? (trolling, spin/bait casting, light tackle, fly fishing, etc.) Do you want to fish from shore, from a drift boat or raft, or wear full length waders?
Your level of fishing experience is also a crucial consideration. Choosing the right guide to help with equipment choices and techniques is critical. The more experience you have, obviously the less advice and help you will need.
Other considerations include, will any non-fishing companions be joining you, and is this strictly a fishing trip or will other leisure or even business activities be involved?
A final consideration--what is your realistic budget? Let's face it, money is a deciding factor for most of us. You need to be honest about how much you are prepared to spend--and how to spend it. If you have $1,500 to spend on a trip, do you want 3 days at Lodge X with most of the comforts of home, or 7 days in a tent camp where you cook your own meals, but have a better shot at a trophy fish?
Once you have established clear priorities about the fishing and accommodations, and roughed out a budget, it's time to start looking at what individual venues have to offer. Search the Internet to find exciting and affordable locations. State or provincial tourism departments or fish/wildlife agencies are excellent resources to find fishing lodges within specific areas. Even the U.S. Forest Service website has valuable and free information about thousands of fishing locales within the U.S.
Before you go, you need to check to make certain that all of your equipment is in safe working order. You might be a long ways from the nearest tackle shop. First, check your rod and reel. Both of these pieces need to be in top condition. Also check the type of line you should be using (you will probably want to take several different types).
Finally, check your tackle box, especially hooks, flies, sinkers and lures depending on the species of fish you are after and the conditions you expect to encounter.
Best wishes for a great trip, whether it be steelheads in Alaska or giant snakeheads in Thailand, you're ready for the ultimate fishing experience!