By Chad LaChance

I just read a main-stream media dissertation about the secrets of “highly successful” people and I came away with the idea that highly successful people simply must be great anglers, or at least would be great ones if they undertook our sport. That notion became clear to me as I read their habits and tendencies and compared it to all the top shelf anglers I know. In a nutshell, regardless of whatever you’re “highly successful” at, the habits and tendencies are the same. One of those tendencies in particular is a weakness of mine; care to guess what it is?

It’s not getting up early daily, it’s not surrounding yourself with a solid team of individuals, and it’s not preparation and planning. Nope, it’s most likely the easiest of all of the tendencies; basic organization. Highly successful people are very organized. Me? Well, not so much.

Like I just said, organization should be, and really is, very easy. But, alas, many of us suffer from a severe lack thereof. All the very highly successful anglers I know get up early as a matter of routine, have a bunch of solid anglers in their immediate network, plan and prepare for fishing outings religiously and their tackle/truck/boat are meticulously organized.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m reasonably organized, as in all my tackle is in the shop. Exactly where within said shop it lives is a more difficult question. In the boat, I can tell you which compartment a certain jerkbait lives, maybe even which area of the compartment, but I cannot tell you with certainty exactly which box to grab it out of. If you asked, I’d say something like “let me get that for you,” and within a few minutes you’d have it.

If you ask Kevin VanDam, the World’s most feared bass angler, where his jerkbait is, he’ll spit out its exact location within his boat instinctively and where the spare in his truck is and probably where his six spares in his shop are. He’d probably catch a fish or two with his jerkbait in the time it took me to find mine, but I hate to think about that! Incidentally, I asked the reigning B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year and very fishy guy Brent Chapman how important organization is to his success, to which he responded something about “Its so critical that I spend more time organizing gear than any other aspect of my angling.” Clearly, I have some work to do in this arena.

So, what’s my plan? Good question. But the answer starts with seriously thinking about how my brain thinks about fishing. In my specific case as a most often self-guided show host, I have to be ready to fish for any species, in any condition or season that I could realistically face, at least within the Rocky Mountain region, and it may involve conventional or fly tackle. The reason I mention how I think about fishing is because, I could organize by species or by tackle type or by season or by vessel or by…etc, etc. So, do I have trout lures, bass lures, and walleye lures? Or do I have, say, jerkbaits, that I know unequivocally will catch all species and can therefore be lumped together in a collective box. Do I need a tackle organized specifically for the hand-launch boat and separately for the big Ranger, even though either boat may be employed on any given day for a range of species? And what about foot trips, oddball species, and out-of-region trips?

As I think this through, it’s no wonder I’m not as organized as I’d like to be! And when compounded by the sheer volume of tackle and gear I’ve accumulated over a lifetime of fishing, nearly 10 years of which have been as a professional of some sort, it’s a seriously daunting task. It gets really ugly, when my propensity for carrying only what I feel will be the necessities is factored in. I despise chronic over-packing; a weird trait for an unorganized guy, don’t you think?

I lay all this out as a challenge to myself and you. If your gear is perfectly organized, you can stop reading. But if you’re like most anglers and want to catch more fish, I propose that taking time to organize your gear will allow you more time to actually fish while on the water. It’ll also allow you to know what you have, what condition it’s in, and most importantly, what you don’t have and therefore need. In this regard, organization is preparation’s close kin, and we all know how important preparation is in the outdoors.

We’re a little ways past the whole hoopla of New Year’s resolutions now, but a good resolution needs to be well thought out; having better tackle and gear organization is a lot more fun to think about than losing 10 pounds or getting a promotion. It’s also a lot more fun to actually accomplish than dieting or fighting the corporate ladder. Notice I didn’t say easier, I said more fun; that was no accident because few things worth doing in life are easy, but the fun ones make the effort all the more worthwhile.

My plan is to start in the Mancave where I’ll sort lures by style, line by material, rods by type and power, and reels by type and size. Then I’ll set up key boxes for the lakes we guide, as they’ll stay in the big boat, as well as a few specific uses like a bass pond bank box, a river trout box, and a panfish box. True destination outings will require a little “shopping” in the Mancave to fill expected needs. Discipline will be required to put it all back after each trip but that’s OK, discipline is one of the other major characteristics of highly successful people. To an angler, “highly successful” is most often defined as catching lots of fish. Well, I’m betting that time spent thinking about and ultimately organizing tackle will make us highly successful in all of our outings!