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Tips for the Traveling Fisherman
written by Bill Cooper

To ensure the best fishing trip possible, remember a few things when you plan your adventure.
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Whether its largemouth in Mexico, smallmouth in Canada, bonefish in the Bahamas, trout in New Zealand or tarpon in the Yucatan, well laid travel plans provide the best insurance for an enjoyable and successful trip.

Fishing trips are a precious commodity and every angler wishes for his best trip ever each time he boards a plane for that far away destination. But the reality is, not every trip pans out to be the dream imagined.

Dreams of fishing far away destinations can quickly turn into nightmares without proper trip planning.

Plan Ahead

My fishing adventures have taken me to some splendid destinations. Some trips have been far better than others. As my experiences expanded, so did my knowledge of how to make the best of any given fishing adventure. I have learned that good planning far in advance of the desired trip is the best insurance available.

The best guides and lodges book up early. Despite the downturn in the economy, experienced traveling anglers want to visit the best destinations they can afford. Booking at least a year in advance is the surest way to get the lodge and guide that you want.

Booking a trip early also means paying your deposit early. In the traveling fishing game, it is the first money received by the lodge that gets the reservation.

Competition for the best destinations can be stiff. Securing the dates you want is best done by putting up a deposit very early in the game.

Air Travel

Air travel is very tricky. However, unlike paying your deposit very early in the game, booking airline tickets very early is not always the best strategy.

All too often buying early only means that you paid too much. On the other hand, you may get a great early price and be able to gloat while watching other ticket prices skyrocket.

It may be to your advantage to pay a little more to acquire the flight and seats which you want. Cheaper fares may be accompanied by middle row seats and multiple stops and layovers before reaching your intended destination.

Booking directly through the airline you wish to utilize offers benefits surpassing those of online travel agencies. The agencies most likely will not give you a seat assignment. You will be gambling for that good seat you desire.

Check out SeatGuru.com when booking tickets. You will be able to check the type of plane you will fly on, as well as your seat location. Booking through the airlines guarantees the seat you prefer.

Traveling with your expensive rods and reels need not be a hassle. Four-piece rods are the most sensible. Few problems are ever created by taking them onboard. However, recall that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed worldwide travel forever. Regulations have relaxed somewhat, but have not returned to the lax days of pre 9-11. So, stow your rods in sturdy rod cases, just in case you are required to check them. It happens.

Reels should always be packed in your checked luggage. Reels containing line are viewed as potentially dangerous strangling devices. Save yourself the hassle, holdups and expensive maneuvering. Put the reels in your checked bags.

Purchasing an insurance rider to your homeowner's policy is a good way to insure your valuable rods, reels, cameras and computers while you travel abroad. Check carefully to see what the rider covers. It may cover boats, motels and other objects. The annual premium for $10,000 in coverage should be less than $200 per year.

Always keep track of and keep up with your luggage. If you sty a night in one destination and have to fly out agin the next day on another leg of the trip, check your luggage on the final destination. Do not allow the airlines to check it forward to the final stop. Lost luggage that contains your fishing gear is a bad stoke of luck. You can wear the same clothes for days, but days spent without your favorite fly rod doesn't set well with most of us.

Additional Tips

Religiously keeping a few tips in mind as you travel to your international fishing destination can save a lot of time and misery.

  • Place your final destination and all contact information for yourself and your lodge or outfitter in your carry-on bag as well as checked bags. It can save precious time should you become separated from your luggage.
  • Make sure (check twice) that your airline luggage tags shows your final destination.
  • Carry a printed copy of your trip itinerary on your person. Too, place a copy in each bag. Some countries require it.
  • When traveling out of country, always have a color copy of your passport. This can be a real lifesaver if yours is lost or stolen.
  • Board your flight as soon as possible. You will get the overhead storage space you need for your carry ons. Occasionally, seating problems arise. The old adage of first come, first served usually prevails.

Good guides deserve good tips. And if you don't have a good guide, don't be afraid to talk to a manager.

Once you have arrived at your desired destination, the perfect plan is that the fun should begin. However, that is not always the case. Make certain you have received the kind of accommodations you were promised and that everything is up to snuff. Waiting until the next day to complain is often too late. Check everything you can think of to make sure it is right. Did you get that breathtaking ocean view you were promised?

Guides

How about your guide? Is he cordial and organized? Is the equipment he provides up to par? Any concerns should be addressed immediately. If the guide does not correct the situation, take your concerns to the manager or owner. Complaining on the last day of your trip does no good for anyone, especially you. I once waited three days to bark back at a grouchy guide who yelled at and belittled me. The whole atmosphere changed for the better when I clearly expressed my displeasure.

Remember your manners. Good guides deserve good tips. Often, in far away places, guides are not well paid. They have families and bills, too. As a general rule of thumb, a good guide should receive $50 to $100 a day per boat. If there are two of you fishing, split the cost. Remember the other folks who provide you services as well. Immediately presenting a bell boy or maid with with a $20 bill will insure you the best stay imaginable.

Plan far in advance, practice casting relentlessly, get in shape and buy a new camera. With these well laid plans, you will catch more fish than ever!

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