Ideas to Help Power Through a Slow Fishing Day
I remember being in a fly shop as a kid and talking to the owner about a fishing trip I was going to be taking with my family.
I had mentioned something about how I hoped the fishing wasn't slow, to which he replied "well, it's great just being up there." I still remember this 25+ years later because the quote made an impression on me, but there's no denying that when we fish we first and foremost want to have some action!
Everyone experiences tough fishing days and some anglers cope with them better than others. Some tough it out all day long no matter what happens, while others have no problem saying "seeeyaaa" pretty quick. I learned to deal with tough fishing at a young age because my parents would drop me off at a lake, pier, or whatever sometimes for 8+ hours. No, it definitely wasn't done against my will, but when the fishing was slow and I was out there shivering in the cold it definitely tested me mentally.
It can be tough powering through a slow fishing day no matter what the weather or surroundings are like, but over the years I've come up with ways to help me stay in the game on days when calling it quits early was mighty tempting. Nothing earth-shattering here, but you may be enlightened by a few of them...
Enjoy the Surroundings- It certainly helps if you're fishing in a pretty place to begin with, but one of my favorite things to do is simply look around and enjoy my surroundings as I fish. During the day, I enjoy looking around, watching wildlife, planes flying over, the makeup of the landscape nearby, and other things. While I keep a solid focus on my fishing, being out there alone in a quiet setting is a great time to think about things and let the mind wander a bit. Whether you have a camera or just your phone, click off some interesting pictures or compile some fish-less scenic images for social media. Not every picture on your Instagram has to have a fish in it!
Get Fancy- I own tackle of all price points, but I have a special appreciation for premium gear. Why? It's (usually) lighter, crisper, more sensitive, casts better, and looks great. When fishing with a high-performance combo that really hits the mark for you, it's more fun to fish with, look at, and just helps make the day a pinch more enjoyable whether you're whacking 'em or not. Get the very best you can afford no matter what price point that equates to, and your enjoyment is sure to go up.
Break Time- Taking a few short breaks throughout a long day works a lot better for me than taking one or two extended ones. Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable and eat, drink, check your emails, take a quick nap, or whatever. For me at least, putting the rod down every couple of hours or so and relaxing for even just 5–10 minutes really helps to reset my mind (and my achy lower back) and gives me a little kick in the energy department on the slowest, most demanding of days.
Explore and Experiment- One of my favorite times to try a new area is when the fishing is super slow. It's really easy to get stuck in a rut running the same list of productive spots time and time again. If the historically good spots don't pan out, wander around and go look at some new water. This can also be an excellent time to try a fly that you seldom use or try a different rigging strategy like a double streamer rig or drop-shot nymphing, for example. Fishing somewhere new or with something new helps me keep things interesting and also gives me a newfound curiosity and hope, even if it's just short-lived.
A lot of fishing is mental, and for those who can get through the slowest times on the water often see the biggest rewards!