As far as recreational activities go, fishing is more popular than golf and tennis combined. In fact, it’s the fourth-most popular sport in all of America, with about 40 million participants.

The range of commitment varies. Some people are content to go fishing in a nearby pond. Others compete in fishing competitions around the country, and still others take vacations specifically because they want to go fishing in a certain area.

If you can afford the latter option, it’s a lot of fun. Here’s a few basics for planning a trip that revolves around fishing.

First, pick a location

You may have long dreamed of going fishing in a certain spot. But if nothing in particular stands out, look up lists of the best fishing spots in the country. Decide which ones sound most appealing. It might be the Outer Banks of North Carolina or the Bighorn River in Montana. But if you want a unique location, it’s worth looking into Alaska.

That’s right, the country’s 49th state is a hotbed of fishing activity. The best fishing lodges in Alaska will let you make catches that would be pretty much impossible anywhere else in the United States. We’re talking about Arctic fish, including the Arctic grayling or Arctic char. If you take this route, make sure you bring lots of warm clothes and layers to stay warm.

It’s also worth getting a guided fishing tour if you can swing it. Unguided fishing tours can be fun, but a place like Alaska is so wild and vast that there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of help when you go out on a fishing expedition. All-inclusive lodges are often a better deal as well, since it means you can focus all your time and energy on fishing rather than other costs or expenses. 

Decide who’s going 

Vacationing with friends sounds like a good idea. But in some cases, going on vacation with friends can lead to internal strife and a lot of strained relationships. Make sure you can talk honestly both before and during the vacation. You should also be sure that everyone on the trip has the same basic set of goals.

That’s especially important on a trip that revolves around fishing. If you don’t genuinely love the sport, then you’re going to be miserable. Make sure no one plans to go on a fishing trip in hopes that they can actually ditch the group and visit a bunch of museums. There’s nothing wrong with museums, but that’s not the purpose of this particular vacation.

Money can also cause stress when you’re vacationing with a big group. Be clear from the outset just how much each person will need to pay. If you can’t get an exact number for things like food, try to find the best estimate possible. If you’re planning to eat mostly the fish you catch, make that clear; if you’re happy to stop by some greasy spoons that need used cooking oil collection, say so.

Figure out how to get there

Many fishing locations in the continental United States allow you to drive right up and start fishing. This is helpful if you want to take a road trip there and carry your own supplies with you.

But some places are only accessible by plane or water. The state’s landscape can be dangerous and treacherous to navigate. So if you’re going somewhere that’s far out, make sure no one in your group has a fear of flying. If they do, it might be better to stick to a place more accessible by car.

A road trip provides you with more freedom in a lot of ways, but obviously, it might work better for shorter fishing expeditions than ones that require you to cross the country. 

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