Sunday, September 4, 2016

Beating the Heat and Dodging Jet Skis

Summer SML pig
I, like many fishermen, tend to avoid fishing the gauntlet that is Smith Mountain Lake during the summer.  Pleasure boaters, wake boarders, and jet skis descend upon my home lake at the first sign of warm weather and that is about the same time anglers either hang it up or head of smaller water.  On any given weekend day to fish the lake is like trying to cross the track at the Daytona 500 on foot....blindfolded.  The movie Mad Max comes to mind, with watercraft zigging and zagging every which way with little regard for their own safety much less the safety of others.  Temperatures get hot, and heads can get even hotter if you are out there trying to catch a few fish amongst the raging swells of 40ft cabin cruisers, but I am here to tell you that you can catch fish...good fish....this time of year out there.
Smith Mountain is my home water and like any major reservoir it has its seasonal patterns, and it has spots that are more productive than others given the prevailing weather.  A trap that I fell into early on in the month was assuming that my previous knowledge and experiences would hold true without taking into account some of the anomalous weather conditions this year leading into August.  It took me a lot of trial and error to realize that the abnormally wet weather coupled with moderately high temperatures of the previous months had thrown the bass, well more the bass angler, a curve ball but once I threw out what I thought I "knew" and fished the actual conditions a solid pattern emerged that I think just about anyone could replicate out there in the future.
As I stated above, we have had a pretty wet year up to this point.  In dry years past conventional wisdom said that during the heat of summer you should fish deep brush piles submerged in up to 30ft of water.  While I did catch some fish like this early on in the month, heaving a big worm and dragging it slowly, the fish I caught were no where near the size I had hoped.  Except for a couple fish in the 2-3lb range most everything down that deep were babies, and I will go into why I think this was the case a little later on.  With the limited success going by conventional wisdom I had to start hunting down the big girls with an open mind and clean slate.
Hunting bass is exactly what I started to do by the 2nd week of August.  As I paddled around the various areas of the lake and by the innumerable boat docks that studded the shore I started to notice that my sonar was returning what looked to be a lot of fish suspended off the ends of all those party platforms.  Me, being an optimist, started trying to target these fish that were just hanging out, but that effort turned to frustration exceedingly quick.  Every time I would see fish on the screen I would cast, drag, shake, twitch, burn, etc etc whatever I could trying to entice just one of them to eat but nada.  One thing I can say about having a fish finder is that it can and will make you want rip it off your kayak and watch it sink to the inky abyss in short order.
After a few outings I lucked into a few fish but never found any solid pattern.  The pressure of a month long online tournament was getting to me as the leaders were pulling hard and fast away from my meager bag for the month.  Not one to be discouraged (or maybe too dumb to know I'm beat) I kept trudging along.  One afternoon I came across another boat slip and my HumminBird Helix screen was lit up yet again.  This time however I noticed something just a little different, with the returns of what looked like bait there were also sharp straight returns going up and down at an angle.         On a whim I threw out my Meador Custom Jigs shakeyhead parallel to the front of that dock, gave it a few quick twitches and BOOM!  After hauling in a fat 3lb bass I figured why not give it another cast, and again in short order I had a second fat fish in the boat.  I repeated the process 3 more times pulling 3 more cookie cutter fish off of the same spot, and thats when the little 10 watt lightbulb went on in my noggin. Those fish were actively feeding and that is what I was seeing on my sonar.  I made some mental notes of depth, retrieve, and bottom composition/bottom cover then headed looking for more of the same.  It didn't take me long to come across a similar situation a little ways around the bend and with fingers crossed I chucked my shakeyhead out.  This time I got hit like a freight train and after a long and harrowing fight on a wet noodle spinning rod I hauled out a 21" 6lb+ pig.  It was game on cuz daddy figured out the pattern.
Over the following weeks I spent more time and energy paddling around the lake looking for the right set of conditions and active fish than I did with a line in the water.  All the effort it took was well worth it as I was rewarded with a monthly total of over 100" in the dead of summer and tourist season on the busiest lake in Virginia.  Not only did I find big fish but the pattern I found produced quantity on almost every trip with even the smaller fish being in the 2-4lb range.
Now that you have suffered through my incessant ramblings here are the juicy details that I hope can put you guys on some fish out there as well.
1) Not all docks are created equal:  I found out quickly that docks with little to no structure on the bottom rarely held fish, or the fish that I would mark would be suspended and I couldn't get them to eat. If you find a dock that has some brush or rock off the front it will be worth a look. If you don't mark fish on a dock like that today, remember it and check it out periodically because at some point there will be catchable bass there.  I made loops in some areas going from one dock I knew had structure to the next until I hit them all and started over again.  On more than one occasion I came back to a likely looking spot later on to find fish on it.
2) Depth is relative: Being summer I always think deep is 20 feet or more and that is where the fish will hold due to the heat. Well most if not all the fish on this pattern were caught anywhere from 10-15ft with deeper water adjacent.
3) Keep your bait in the fishes face:  I made it my number 1 priority to keep my bait on the same level as the fish.  In general I cast parallel to depth changes, if you mark the fish at 15ft then cast to where its 15ft deep and retrieve it along that 15ft line.  I didn't want my bait coming up or down a slope on a drop off
4) Slow is your friend:  I know that there are a million ways to catch fish and some folks love to power fish.  I (as Danny will tell you) am the slowest fisherman on earth.  I have no problem fishing a single deadfall for an hour.  I'm not going to say that anyone else should do the same but in this instance going slow produced time and again over a speedy approach.  I think in the heat some of these big fish get a little lethargic and aren't willing to chase down a meal.  Make multiple casts because it may be the difference in a few inches or a foot that triggers big mama to eat.
5) Trust your electronics: If you have a depth finder on you kayak then learn to use it.  Play with the settings to optimize your readout.  Above all learn what it is that the screen is telling you.  A huge advantage this month was picking out actively feeding fish versus ones that were just milling around. While I might get lucky and tempt a neutral fish into eating, I could almost always get one or more active fish to chew.
6) Finesse isn't just for numbers:  I know that some folks will say that finesse fishing isn't for catching big bass.  Well Smith Mountain lake isn't a typical reservoir when it comes to tactics.  While crank baits, spinnerbaits and the like have their time and place on the lake I would say that most of the year the angler willing to slow down and do some finesse fishing will be rewarded more often than not.  I did the majority of my work with a shakeyhead with a smattering of Texas rigged worms and various jigs thrown in.  Big fish WILL eat a small bait.
The Meador Custom Jigs Shakeyhead did most of the work but the Swim Jig and Brush Jig got in on the action too as well as some 10" Berkley Power Worms
A few last thoughts on this pattern.  Not all actively feeding fish were right on top of docks, sometimes the fish would be 10 or 20 feet away from the front of a dock but casting parallel to the depth break and trusting my electronics I could catch them. Along with that, knowing the depth that active fish were in also allowed me to find offshore structure in the same depth range that held fish.  Without knowing how deep the were I would overlooked some really productive offshore structure that I would have assumed to be too shallow for this time of year.  Mornings were not the most conducive for me this month.  Mid-day up through dark produced both the biggest and best quantities of fish.  I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that the fish were feeding a lot during the night coupled with the sun later in the day concentrated them in very specific areas making them easier to target.  Last but not least do not overlook the power of a big soft plastic worm or jig worked around dead falls.  I had some really nice fish take a worm or jig as it was falling through the branches of downed tree.  The best trees were those close to water that was 15-20 feet deep.
Finally, why were the fish not where they were "supposed" to be this time of year.  I think that the high frequency of rain we have had this year has kept the water cooler and more oxygenated in the 10-20ft range than in years past.  Couple that with the higher than average temperatures earlier in the year and the deep water has lost a large part of its dissolved oxygen content pushing bass up in the water column.  These are just a few things to keep in mind for future fishing trips during the Dog Days of Summer.

Tight lines,


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What keeps me awake at night?

5lb Bass from last June
   There is a period of a little over a month each year that causes more sleepless nights for anglers than the other 11 combined.  Intrepid fishermen aren't at home cozy in bed dreaming about big bass they might catch the next day, oh no, these folks are out there on the water from sundown until daybreak.  Why would anyone want to forgo a nights rest to chase fish in the dark you may ask?  Well late April through early June on the large reservoirs here in Virginia the alewife shad begin their annual spawning rituals and this also coincides with big momma bucketmouth coming off her bed hungry as ever.   This small window of time could be one of your best bets to land a monster with the added challenge of doing fishing in total darkness.
   Every year I tell myself that next year I am going to go out every night during the magical month of May, and every year life throws a curveball so I never get out as much as I hope.  Even with limited time on the water at night during this time I still manage to catch some of my best fish of the year, not to mention striper, catfish, and just about every other predatory fish in the lake, and anyone who has never tried it can too with just a little insight.  Once you experience the heart pounding thrills that come with fishing during the shad spawn you will be hooked for life I guarantee.  There is nothing on Earth as exciting as sitting in the dark and having fish explode all around you, sometimes within feet of your boat, and the anticipation that one of those explosions could be aimed at your lure.
From top: Storm Thunderstick, Jackall Mikey, Zoom Super Fluke, Bomber Long A
  The tools of the trade for this style of fishing are simple yet effective.  The old go-to is a Storm jointed Thunderstick, but other options that are just as effective are Bomber Long A, Jackall Mikeys and even Zoom Super flukes.  The key making these baits effective is keeping them on the surface making a wake as the fish are targeting silhouetted shad in very shallow water.  If anyone were to ask me which of these baits is best I honestly couldn't give an answer because each one has a place and time but the most important thing is how they are fished.  Imagine you are reeling your line across a razor and you do not want to reel too fast for fear of being cut off then slow down your retrieve even more.  I don't personally think you can reel too slow for this style of fishing as long as the bait is steadily coming back to you, though sometimes they will hit it just sitting still.

My brothers 1st night trip
  As important as how to fish is where to find fish.  If I am completely forthright figuring out where to use the above mentioned technique is the easiest part.  Alewife shad make a mad dash for shallow rocky shorelines after dark and every fish that eats them knows where they are headed.  Lucky for us that on the large man made lakes in the area surrounding property owners have spread enough riprap to cover a small state making it fairly easy to find suitable fishing grounds.  You can plop yourself down on just about any riprap bank and catch fish, but some banks are better than others.  I would try to key in on the banks that have shallow bays, flats or shoals leading up to them as these will almost always be the most productive.  Once you find yourself a prime piece of property its usually best to position you kayak as close to shore as possible, or even wedge up on some of the riprap, and begin casting parallel to the shore.  Some nights the fish will like it 3 feet away from the bank and others you will have to bang your lure off the rock in mere inches of water to elicit a strike.  Other times casting to shore and retrieving out to open water is better, and even still targeting the bank at a 45 degree angle will be the ticket, but generally it is best to start out casting parallel as close as you can and figure out how they prefer the bait presented from there.
Night fishing can be a mixed bag!
  Weather plays an integral role in a successful night trip as much as it does any other time of the year.  One night you may go out and the fish eat what seems to be every thing you throw at them and other nights you might not land a single fish.  I have found that a few factors come in to play weather wise that make for better or worse trips.  The absolute main issue that will kill an otherwise good night is wind.  A very slight breeze, and I mean slight, can be a good thing to help concentrate fish on one shoreline or the other but much more than that and your efforts could be for naught.  Wind creates ripples and when you are trying to catch fish based on your bait making a small wake any water movement could spell doom.  The best nights are glass flat calm bar none, pretty much the opposite of fishing during the day.  I also try to fish the clearest water possible.  This spring I have had some disappointing nights due to what I believe was poor water clarity from recent rains.  With fishing gin clear water you have to pay attention to the the moon and its light.  During clear sky nights if the moon full or near so I target banks that are shadowed by trees, hills, or anything else for that matter, as the fish use that shade at night just as they do during the day.  Overcast conditions help tremendously during the full moon and I have had some of my best trips on cloudy moonless nights though I have postulated recently that if you do find yourself fishing murky water you want to find as much light as possible to help those fish get a good look at your lures shadow.
Copeland Stills with a nice chunk from last year.
  Last but not least I have a few more tips on the dos and don'ts that will hopefully shorten your learning curve for the witching hour.  First deals with rod selection and its not a must but it could mean the difference between landing the fish that explodes on your bait like an atom bomb or just getting the scare of your life.  Parabolic actions are your friend at night especially using treble hooked lures.  A moderate action crankbait rod will help keep you from yanking the bait out of the fishes mouth when it blows up and your heart stops as well as takes some of the shock while its tugging away at your line so you don't rip out the hooks during the fight.  To land a fish you first must get them to bite and to do that you CAN NOT shine a light all along the shore line to make sure you aren't going to cast into a tree or something.  The more light you that hits your eyes the less you can see in the dark since light kills your night vision making it impossible to see faint outlines and shadows, so only turn on your headlamp if you are tying on, stuck, or unhooking a fish.  The last 2 are safety related issues because momma, your wife, kids, husband, etc all want you home.  Always ALWAYS wear your pfd if you go out at night ALWAYS!  Stay close to shore (thats where the fish are anyway) and if you must cross a cove or channel do it directly. Don't go at an angle or take your time out in open water because no matter how many lights you have on your kayak guys in bass boats doing 50mph aren't to be trusted at night.  As for lights,  always have a headlamp to keep your hands free and to have a white light close at all times.  You can deck out your kayak with all sorts of other lights from folks like SuperNova and Yaklights but definitely have at minimum a good marker light on a pole like the YakAttack Visicarbon or even just a DIY light on a stick.  
  Do not let the dark frighten you off and don't miss out on some of the most adrenaline pumping fishing of the year.  Get out there they are crushing it right this second on a large lake near you so sleep in and fish all night.  Good luck and be safe.

Tight lines,


Sunday, April 17, 2016


  I've seen many list out there telling folks the differences between fishing from a bass boat and kayak such as range and space for equipment.  One of the major obstacles that is absent from most of these list, in my opinion, is the wind factor.  Wind plays a major role in boat positioning and casting accuracy for both bass boats and kayakers but the struggle to overcome the effects of wind are handled very differently between the two.
  Wind in and of itself is not a bad thing.  Having some wind can assist in giving anglers areas to key in on such as points that it is blowing onto or across and banks or cover that it pushes baitfish into.  Wind also helps to cause disturbance on the surface breaking up the silhouette of lures and making fish more apt to strike, especially in clearer water.  For the kayak angler though it can also cause a frustrating and fruitless day on the water, if you even decide to go.
  Boat guys always talk about how hard it was to keep their boats in position when the wind hits 10+ mph, and that they had to stay on the trolling motor all day just to be able to fish.  Well when YOU are the trolling motor let me tell you a day on the water in even 5mph wind can cause a stream of profanity that would make a sailor blush.  Power boats do not really have to take into account the areas they want to target on mildly windy days, where as if a kayaker wants to be successful and have a semi-enjoyable day they will need to research and plan specific areas to fish that afford the most protection from a gail.
  So how do you fight nature and at least come to a draw? Well thats where planning and preparations come into play.  I look on various weather sites to determine that days prevailing wind patterns.  Once I know where the wind is coming from I start to narrow down my list of lakes that I can fish with the specific amount of wind.  I know from past experience that certain lakes are off limits if the wind is above 5 or 6mph because they do not have any good sheltering coves, and I imagine everyone  has similar experiences.  After my list is narrowed down to fishable lakes I start looking for the aforementioned sheltering coves.  Sometimes you have to paddle into the wind for a good distance from the nearest launch point to reach a leeward area but that initial effort will pay off.  Even after you find your self a nice spot out of the wind there will still be times when the it will swirl and change directions, but in the end it is still better than dealing with it full on.
  There is a strategy to fishing with the wind once you get to an area as well.  Sometimes you may have to paddle past the prime fishing spots because wind is coming from the back of a cove.  The key is to let the wind be your trolling motor, gently cruising you along while you fish.  You will need to keep you paddle at the ready for corrections in course and to keep your boat in a castable position but it sure beats fighting against it all day.
  Casting and casting accurately is also hampered by by strong winds.  One thing I have learned to do when fishing jigs and soft plastics is to cast down wind and float to the position I want to achieve to start my retrieve.  This affords me the ability to work my bait slowly without the wind basically trolling it at speed behind me.  Casting down wind also helps to mitigate accuracy issues that hamper fishing efficiency.  Lure selection and weight are critical to keeping your bait at the correct depth as well as fighting the effects of cross winds causing errant casts.  The rule of thumb is to size up your weights as much as double or triple depending on wind strength and depth you are targeting, so don't be afraid to throw a 3/4 ounce or heavier sinker on a texas rigged worm if the winds are howling at 15mph but you are only fishing 5 feet deep.
  Now I know that there are kayaks out there like the Hobies, Native Propel, and Predator XL that allow you to more easily maintain position in windblown areas while having your hands free to fish.  There are also various systems of anchoring yourself in one spot like a Power Pole Micro, stakeout poles, anchor trolleys, etc.  Not everyone has the means to own a pedal or motorized kayak, and the various anchor systems, at least to me, can be just as frustrating to deal with as the wind.  In the mountainous areas I fish the wind tends to swirl and will leave you spinning around like a weather vane if you drop anchor, or Power Pole for that matter.  Nothing is quite as annoying as getting set up thinking you are in the perfect position with your anchor out and the wind changes directions and leaves you with your back to the honey hole, then you trolley your anchor and you guessed it the wind changes again.
Do not let wind keep you off the water this year. It is just another variable that we have to learn how to deal with and often coincides with some of the best times of the year to catch a lunker.  This year has been one for the record books here in Virginia, and the frustration that it has caused will not be forgotten but we live and we learn.  Tight lines and fish on.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Confessions of a tackle addict

  I have an addiction.  The first step on the road to recovery they say, is to admit you have a problem.  I know I am not alone in the quagmire of fishing gear addicts nor do I have all the answers as to how one breaks free of the bonds of such a depraved obsession.  My one hope is that we as a group can learn to control our urges and binge less frequently upon the myriad gadgets and gear that fill our dreams and credit card statements.
  It was not long ago that I would aimlessly walk the aisles of the various local sporting goods stores just to pick up an eye-catching lure or bag of soft plastics without thinking.  Sometimes I would run out and buy something that I had read was a "must have for X."  I never thought twice about the fact that there was no body of water within 100 miles that "X" would come into play, but I had just the rig if it ever did.  Too many times did my hard earned money go towards the purchase of a lure or rig that had no use in the types of fishing or places I fished. I just liked buying new equipment, period.  Fast forward a few years and god knows how much money later and I am drowning in a plethora of baits that have never seen the water or even been on the water in my kayak.    
  I started to recognize the foolishness in my errant purchase history as room for my "investments" started to dwindle.  I set out to honestly self analyze my fishing style based on what I had confidence in and where I predominantly plied my efforts afloat.  With this information and the realization that I truthfully only needed a dozen or so baits to be effective I decided the judicious thing to do would be only purchase things within my comfort zone.   True addiction is hard to overcome though, and soon I had amassed yet another monstrous collection of "confidence baits."  
  The true irony in my situation is that though I possess a cache of lures rivaling Bass Pro, I am somewhat a minimalist when the time arrives to load up and go fishing.  I have a rod for every type of technique imaginable, but I only take 4 or 5 with me sometimes less.  Hundreds of bags of soft plastics are stuffed into cabinets yet only a hand full ever make it into my crate.  If Plano stock was given for buying tackle trays I would sit on the board of directors even though I can count on one hand how many times more than 3 see the light of day.  If you take an honest look at yourself I think many of you will see a similar situation.
  So how do we break free from the shackles of tackle manufacturers advertisements, pros rhetoric, and the promise of unworldly fish catching abilities?  I am still fighting my own demons with this issue, but I know it starts by taking an honest look at how you fish, where you fish, what you fish for, and understanding that it is not necessary to prepare for situations that will never arise.  If you live in Minnesota it does not make sense to stockpile baits that some guy fishing in Florida or Texas says you can't live without.  Just because you read about how a 6'9" medium action rod with a fast tip is the only way to go for drop-shotting doesn't mean you can't use the 6'6" or 7' rod you already have on hand.  Lets all seek deliverance from the irrational tackle fetish that grips our hearts and wallets.  We must be rational.  We must overcome....Now I'm off to pick up a few more crankbaits....and maybe a new rod.

Tight lines,


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Reel Review

Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier 

   After just over a season of hard use I felt it was time to give my thoughts on the ubiquitous Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier baitcaster.  I had never owned any BPS brand reels until I saw this one on sale during their "Spring Fishing Classic" sale and being a sucker for a deal I figured it was worth a chance.
   I, like so many, do not have an unlimited budget and any time I can find a piece of equipment that has  quality far superior to its cost I'm ecstatic.  The Pro Qualifier fits this description to a tee and then some.  I use these reels for the highest resistance toughest applications in my arsenal, Alabama rigs and deep cranking, and have yet to experience the first issue. From pulling in striper to dredging the depths with a 6XD this reel takes on all challenges day in and day out without complaint.
   Not only is the Pro Qualifier tough but it is exceptionally smooth with features one would expect from higher cost reels.  Bass Pro Shops "Dual Braking System" incorporates internal centrifugal brakes with an externally adjustable magnetic cast control that keeps my backlash problems in check.  With the DBS you can whip lightweight baits like balsa crankbaits and weightless plastics even if you don't have KVD like thumb control.  I feel as though the reels I own with either magnetic or centrifugal brakes alone I have to be much more conscious of my casts but the Pro Qualifier allows me to focus more on fishing and less on backlash issues.
The external magnetic brake and internal centrifugal pins of the Dual Braking System
   Being a kayak angler means I am hard on my equipment.  Reels sit in the bottom of my kayak getting dirty and drenched and the Pro Qualifier doesn't get any special treatment from me.  Rough use means I have to maintain my reels frequently and BPS makes it easy by adding an access port to ensure lubing the gears is hassle free.  A little reel grease and oil goes a long way to guaranteeing you don't have a failure on the water but taking a reel completely apart is a daunting task for most that has been alleviated with a little forethought on the part of BPS and to the relief of many anglers.

   As great as the Pro Qualifier is there are a few small improvements that could be made to improve upon the design.  The cast control knob does not have a positive click feature and can be inadvertently loosened with little effort which can lead to a birds nest on the next cast and lots of cussing.  The other main issue I have is that the material used for the grips don't provide much purchase once they get wet.  After catching a fish or two getting the grips wet and slimy my fingers tend to slip off these greasy plastic paddles.  The easy solution is add some after market EVA or silicone grip covers but it would be just as easy for BPS to change out the paddles with EVA or equivalent material that holds up better once wet.  The last issue I have isn't so much a functional concern as it is an aesthetic one.  The silver finish is pretty tough but after a season getting banged around and left in the elements it is showing some serious wear.  The side plate as well as the top edges have little original finish left, again not a big problem to me but in full disclosure I wanted to mention it.
   If you are in the market for a tough, affordable, smooth reel I would recommend checking out the Pro Qualifier.  With speeds from blazing 7.1:1 to crawling 4.7:1 you can find a reel for any application.  If you really want a deal and have a little patience Bass Pro seems to put these reels on sale at various times throughout the year so give one a try.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Smith Mountain Lake report November and December

  Though I have not been able to fish as much as I would like the last few months, as life has a way of getting in the way, the fish have been cooperative when I do get out.  Weather patterns have been abnormal this year with temperatures into the 70s as late as the end of December and that has made patterning the fish difficult.  As of December 31 I have seen water temperatures into the middle 50s though the recent cold front the last week has most likely turned the water icy cold.
  I have had success with black or green pumpkin soft plastic worms in the 7 to 10 inch lengths fished around cover.  Fish have been from 3 feet to 15ft deep depending on the day but on average they have been much more shallow recently than typical for this time of year.  I would not count on them being shallow as the water cools and the weather becomes more seasonable in the coming weeks.   
  As the water clears from recent rains I am going to concentrate on mastering my jerk bait presentation as this should be a killer tactic on sluggish post frontal bass.  Drop-shot and jig-n-pig will also pick up fish with consistency for the next few months but as we all know the key will be fishing so slow your future grandchildren will make the next cast slow.  
  Striper action on the lake is hot with live shad on planers, downlines and floats being the most consistent.  Alabama rigs and trolled minnow hard baits like Rapala Shadraps will take some fish as will casting to breaking fish with buck tails or flukes.  The hot bite on striper will be if you find active gulls and can get on them quick with swimsuits, buck tails, flukes, or flutter spoons.  Tight lines and good luck!

Balancing life and fishing

  It is inevitable that if we vow to spend more time doing something we enjoy the cosmos will take affront and do whatever is necessary to make sure we can not succeed.  For months I had set it upon myself to spend every waking moment of the waning year on my kayak chasing finned quarry.  My job over the past year had been tied to warm weather which meant that I would be free from other obligations during the fall and winter freeing me up to take advantage of some of the best fishing of the year....or so I thought.
  With visions of lunker bass and hard charging striper on the end of my line day after day, I worked hard through spring and summer.  The first signs of leaves turning vermillion and gold had my mind racing toward the time when work would end and my life would revolve entirely around fishing.  In preparation for the months ahead with  little income I decided I would try to land a part-time job to sustain me but that would also give me ample time to pursue my passion.  Unbeknownst to me the universe had other plans.  Instead of one employer and a few hours a week, I was hired by two separate companies and found myself working more than ever and fishing a lot less.
  I am telling this story to emphasize the challenges we all face when it comes to balancing the hobbies we love, or even obsess over, and living a responsible life.  I made a deliberate decision to take on a new career that provides financial stability as well as a part-time job at a place I love to spend time knowing it would be detrimental to the time I had hoped to spend wetting a line.  The key to my decision was keeping in mind my long term goals and not allowing my shortsighted desire to blind me to what I ultimately want to achieve which is FISHING MORE.  
  If you always keep your goals at the forefront then balancing your hobby and your day to day life will be much more enjoyable and productive.  Do not let the impulsiveness of today ruin the greatness of tomorrow, and as a side note I now have tons more time to fish so it is all working out in the end thanks to the infinite wisdom of the divine plan.