By Chad LaChance
Ah, December! As a fishing professional, I love December. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the fishing that I love about it, although there is some great fishing to be had. I mean, geez, ice is forming on many of our lakes and we all know how good first ice of the year can be. For those that love ice fishing, first ice is just about Nirvana. The fish are easy to catch and the conditions are generally still tolerable, even for those venturing out sans hut. If you don’t like ice fishing, many reservoirs are still open water – boatable even – and a jigging spoon is a deadly tool on bass, walleye and a slew of others. Reservoir trout are on fire in December and the larger rivers have not yet plunged into the depths of winter. Even non-tailwaters are still fishable and for the gung-ho outdoors enthusiast, a cast-n-blast trip is a real possibility, too. But, I said my love of December ain’t about the fishing, so what gives? Well, for me and many other Americans, it’s the slackest month of the year – the month when we’re not slaving away over a hot computer producing new FTTV episodes just in time to meet a network deadline or out filming every chance we get. Consumer show season doesn’t start until after the New Year, so I’m not travelling for that either. Our guiding is done for the year, the 2012 boat is sold and we’re looking ahead to next year. Contracts with the great companies that support FTTV and all things Fishful in general have been settled for the coming year, meaning my office time is greatly reduced. Basically, the fishing biz, which is largely a family-friendly industry, tends to coast a little in December. The only way I’ve found to make a living in fishing is to work my hiny off, but in December, my hiny gets a rest, just in time for holiday season.
Conventional wisdom says that the holiday season is to be spent with friends and family, spreading cheer, reminiscing on the years past and planning for the coming ones. While I don’t disagree with this theory and do enjoy the holiday season, it does sound a lot like fishing season – minus the holiday cheer of course.
I came to this realization while fishing with a buddy the other day. You see, spending time with friends and family is a corner stone of the angling lifestyle. Reminiscing about past fishing adventures, often in the form of the dubious fish story, is angling’s oldest tradition. And planning future outings is what occupies all true anglers’ dreams.
Instead of holiday cheer, fishing season has knowledge to spread, which leads to the ultimate cheer; successful angling. Spreading angling knowledge is very near and dear to me, so much so that I would apply for the Fishing Santa position if they had one. I could float around from house to house dropping tidbits of fishing wisdom to be opened by anglers on their next outing. It would be just like Santa Claus, but in baggy waders.
Like the holiday season, fishing season has brightly wrapped gifts, each unique and some exactly what the angler asked for. Our gifts are in the form of beautiful pink and green rainbow trout, brilliant orange and blue sunfish and those golden bronze smallmouth bass shining in the sun.
For the record, in fishing season it’s perfectly acceptable, even preferred, to “re-gift” by releasing your fish thereby making another angler’s day. In some cases we get to catch our gift and eat it too. You can have the chestnuts roasting on an open fire, I’ll settle for walleye fillets in hot grease.
Instead of Black Friday, anglers have First Safe Ice. We trade twelve days of Christmas for two weeks of stonefly hatches. Our Christmas dinner is a classic family fish fry with all the trimmings.
Fishing season swaps sleighs for boats, catchy jingles for screaming drags and picturesque cards for “grip-n-grin” fish pics shared with all your buddies. In holiday season, kids wake up at the crack of dawn filled with anticipation on only one day per year. With fishing season, grown men and kids alike share that level of anticipation every time we head out. We’re taught in holiday season to always remember that it’s the thought, not the gift, that counts. Same in fishing; it’s not about fish, it’s about the experience.
Bottom line; fishing season has all the benefits of the holiday season, without all the hype. And when you consider that anglers can enjoy our “holiday” year ‘round, fishing season has the holiday season whooped.
But maybe I’m biased.
So, “Happy Holidays” to all and to all a fish bite!