When you think of fishing, the first thing that comes to mind is casting from a boat. I was in that mindset for a long time which is what kept me from truly pursuing my passion for many years. Two years ago, I hooked up with a fishing buddy that allowed me to get out more often, but it wasn’t until last year that I finally broke my thought process and started to think “outside the boat” for my fishing experiences. If fishing in a boat is the only way you think you can get out and catch fish, you’re missing out on a plenitude of opportunities to wet a line.
I’ve always had a bias against shore fishing because I didn’t feel you could cover enough water to find the fish. The truth is, fish are always around. As with all fishing, it comes down to the right bait and the right presentation. If one thing isn’t working, try another. As much as I’m an artificial lure angler, live bait with a bobber is always a good option for fishing from the shore. It gives you the best chance because you can never beat the real thing.
A step up from shore fishing is wading. Most shorelines have never had a human set foot in the water, so you have to tread carefully when wading off shore more than a few feet. But usually, you can find a spot or two off shore that is sturdy enough to walk on.
Wading out into the water gives you that extra distance on your cast that could be the difference between catching fish or not. Just an extra few feet can drop your cast on the other side of a drop off where fish like to hang out and party.
Having a pair of waders is your best option, but don’t be afraid to don a pair of old tennies. I don’t recommend treading in flip flops or with bare feet, though. Flip flops are too unstable and you never know what is under the sand that can cut up bare feet.
For several years, my brother had been trying to get me into float tubing. It wasn’t until last summer that I finally tried it and as he expected, I’m hooked. Float tubes take you to the next level beyond wading. It gets you out into the middle of the lake to cover water that you can’t get to from shore fishing.
Float tubes are relatively inexpensive (compared to a boat or even a canoe), easy to transport, and easy to set up. It also takes minimal maintenance so it’s win-win all around. All float tubes have storage compartments so you can bring all your favorite lures, and you can even buy a rod holder to bring an extra rod and reel along.
A good pair of flippers is key so you can get around easily. Kicking hard can actually get you moving at a pretty good clip and gives you some good exercise. I recommend scuba flippers if you can afford them. They are made to push you through the water and stay on the best.
When tubing, you have to pay attention to your clock at all times. Make sure you plan ahead to make your way back to your exit point with plenty of time to get out of the water and back to your car, especially if you fish around sunset. It’s no fun trying to put everything in your car in pitch blackness.
Also make sure you wear a PFD. It can either be a kayak style or auto-inflatable one, but don’t go out without one. Float tubes are very durable, but you never know what could happen. Yes, they float and have multiple bladders, but if you get separated, your built in floatation device does you no good.
So next time you think you can’t go fishing because you don’t have a boat, pick up a pole and head to your nearest shore. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have and what you might catch.
Casting in an old farm pond or checking out the stocked pay lake in town, what are some other places to catch some fish outside of the boat?