Why do you travel so much just to catch fish? This is one of the commonly asked questions us travelling anglers get from friends and family. In this post, I like to share why travelling has become such an important factor in fishing or angling, and why you should travel more too if you are still hesitant to do so.
Do the Research
Most start off by choosing their targeted species, then find out which fishing destinations offer the best fishing for said species. List down all possible destinations then try to contact charter operators in your list of destinations. Inquiries are free and you should try to get as much information as possible from all potential destinations.
Find out how much it will cost to get to the destination, how much it costs to fish for a week and how much extra cash you should bring for incidental expenses. This will provide you with an overall financial goal to reach before booking your trip. Get information about weather, best times to visit, flights, travelling costs, required fishing equipment, etc. All professional charter operators will provide you with in-depth pre-trip information with all the details that you need to know for your trip. Talking to them through the phone or through email personally is best.
Remember to do your research carefully and only trust the information you collect from reputable websites and/or charter operators. There are still plenty of opportunistic predators on the interwebs and you should be aware that some information online isn’t accurate. Join forums or Facebook groups and try to get first-hand information from people who’ve already been to your desired destination. As said earlier, social media has opened up the world to us and talking to someone that has firsthand experience is priceless.
With the rise in popularity of big game fishing in social media, the world has begun to become a bit smaller. Probably one of the rare benefits of social media, but it is truly opening up the world of angling by allowing us to see what’s out there by just looking at our phones. International travel has never been easier. A Google search of the desired country you want to visit, and you’ll get all the information you need, although I’d still recommend that you be extra careful when doing your research as not everything on the internet is trustworthy. One may have plateaued and attained their peak at their home waters and want a new challenge, a new frontier, a new destination to fish.
Travelling, exploring, and angling the world can provide you with immeasurable knowledge, experience and memories. Travelling to some far-flung destination like Vanuatu to catch a fish that piqued your interest when you saw it on Instagram is turning into a personal challenge for ourselves and to others who are passionate about our sport.
Before we get into the details of travelling the world, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons as to why anglers choose to travel further from home for a fish.
Crowded or Overfished Waters
Possibly the biggest complaint we hear from anglers everywhere is that their favorite fishing spots have been overfished and you wished that you didn’t tell Jack from the bar the other night where the fish have been biting. Another factor that pushes us anglers away from fishing our favorite spots is overfishing from the commercial fishing sector. We cannot put a stop to this as this is a major business that helps run the world, but it can negatively affect the fishing for recreational anglers like us. Proper government control can help but we cannot put all of our eggs in that basket. All we can do is to look elsewhere to catch fish.
Not Practicing Catch and Release
It is great that the sport is growing exponentially year by year as new anglers arrive in droves to learn the ropes and enjoy fishing like we do. Unfortunately, it takes time to understand how overharvesting can negatively affect fish populations and most of the time humans only understand that taking home too much fish can lead to decreased fish populations. The longer you are in the sport the more you will understand the importance of catch and release practices and hopefully the new bloods will get on the program sooner than later. Luckily professional charter operations around the world strictly practice catch and release and we hope that other operators follow suit soon.
“The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of that which is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.” Author Unknown
The Bucket List / Fishing Hit List
You’ve been angling since the day you started walking and now you’ve mastered your home waters and are looking for a new challenge. Now that we have power of the internet, we are able to see photos and videos of fish that may pique our interest. You see a photo of a 50kg GT and deep in your heart you know you want to catch one. The possibilities are virtually endless as professional charter operators can be found even in some of the most remote destinations possible allowing you the possibility of catching your bucket list fish. A friend of mine is on a challenge to catch as much species of fish possible in as much countries he can visit. Might be worth it to do the same if you are up for the challenge.
Explore and Fish the World
Similar to chasing your bucket list fish, the desire to explore the world while angling is another main reason why we love to travel to far flung places to fish. Getting on a trip to a remote destination like Vanuatu without knowing what the outcome would be, is the main reason we do this. Months of planning, checking charts, staring at maps, plotting tracks, preparing angling gear and equipment all the while guessing what this mysterious piscatorial predator’s feeding behavior is like. Researching the countries we plan to visit, are visas required? How many flights will it take? How much money do we need to save? Any diseases that we need to be aware of? It is the unknown, the adventure, the journey that keeps us pushing the envelope of fishing travel and we just can’t have enough of it.
It is the unknown, the adventure, the journey that keeps us pushing the envelope of fishing travel and we just can’t have enough of it.
Bear in mind that travelling is not as easy as you think. Before you reach for your credit card to pay for your flights, you should plan your itinerary carefully, and triple check always. Professional charter operators will have provided you with a fishing trip itinerary to base your flights and travelling on and that is a good basis to start on. Booking through agents can also help in this regard as they can provide you with an end to end trip experience which includes all the travelling and fishing without you stressing about it, but you can still do this yourself if you are adventurous enough and if you put in the time and effort it requires.
When you receive your trip dates from your charter operator, they will advise you when you should arrive into the country and when you can book flights out of the country. Go ahead and check available flights according to those dates advised. I always tell the people to not skimp on flights. Getting the cheapest flights available will almost always only cost you more in baggage fees and you won’t really enjoy the trip as much as budget flight horror stories can only tell you as much. Try to pamper yourself as much in flights to lessen your stress and make your trip as memorable as possible. Booking flights on well known airlines often provide you with ample luggage allowances and also provide free sporting goods allowance. Remember to ask how much luggage allowance is provided before booking.
If you plan to go DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and visit some attractions before or after the fishing trip, make sure that you know when and where you should meet your guides and be there on time. Most remote destinations won’t have the usual car rental services or the most comfortable public transportation options available in first world countries so make sure you are aware of this when you are planning. Don’t hesitate to discuss your extracurricular plans with your charter operator as they can provide you with safe and comfortable alternatives that is most probably better than the DIY route. They may even offer to take you around the city as part of your trip package as well for an overall better fishing trip experience. There is no substitute to local knowledge when travelling abroad.
I’ve done a travel insurance article before and I highly recommend that you read it as well, so you know what the advantages of getting yourself a proper insurance policy before you go ahead and fly off.
Once you’ve sorted out your travelling, you will want to prepare your equipment and yourself for the trip at hand. Most charter operators will have high quality tackle for you to hire and use while on the trip, but I highly recommend that you bring your own fishing gear for maximum enjoyment. Your guides will often send you a list of recommended tackle to bring on the trip and you should try your best to meet the requirements. Nothing worse than travelling thousands of miles to your fishing destination then finding out you’ve brought the wrong tackle. Take note that most remote destinations won’t have fully stocked tackle shops available in the area so it is a must that you bring all the required tackle with you.
Currency exchange is another important aspect of travelling. Make sure that you have enough cash and change your money at the airport or at a place where your guide or charter operator recommends. Your guides and charter staff will be your best source of information about currency exchange and they’ll always get you the best options available. They will also tell you how much extra money to bring with you for additional expenses like tips or alcoholic drinks, but they’ll also advise you not to bring too much (or drink too much, sometimes).
You would also want to prepare your body for the experience as well. If you are booked for a weeklong fishing expedition, you’d want your body to be ready for the beating it will receive. Whether it’s a popping and jigging trip, a fly fishing trip, or a big game expedition, a well prepared body and mind is of utmost importance. You won’t want to be huffing and puffing after 2 casts on day one.
Your cardiovascular strength is one to focus on and you should at least be ready for 10 hours of non-stop fishing each day for 5 days or more. Strength wise, you should work on your back, legs, core, shoulders and arms. Other than being the foundation of your strength when battling a fish, the back, legs and core will also be your point of balance when on a constantly moving platform like a boat or even when on soft sand or sharp coral when wading. Check out our fishing for fitness article as well for more information on how to get ready for your fishing trip. Getting your body ready for a week of non-stop physical activity can only make your trip better.
“If you set realistic goals, fish hard while enjoying the company and surroundings, the fish will come as a bonus.”
Make a list of your goals. Having something to aim at is good for you and the guides. It pays to tell your guides what your goals are so they can plan ahead and maybe adjust plans accordingly. They’ll tell you if your plans can be accomplished but remember that this is fishing and catching fish cannot be guaranteed. I highly advise that you set goals that make you better.
Aim to be a better caster, aim to set the hooks better, aim to work your lure or fly better. These goals are more realistic, and you’ll surely be able to reach them after a week of non-stop fishing. It is all mindset. If you set realistic goals, fish hard while enjoying the company and surroundings, the fish will come as a bonus. If you don’t catch your targeted fish, at least you improved your overall fishing skills.
Don’t worry about things that may go wrong. Take everything in stride and absorb the surroundings in. Most will worry about the fishing too much and will stress about not catching their targeted fish but this isn’t the right way to do it. Remember to enjoy where you are. Enjoy the company of the people around you. Enjoy the sights and sounds and most importantly you should relax. That’s what you are here for, to relax and unwind.
Fishing-wise, remember that you have professional guides with you. The guides are there to help you catch fish. Utilize their experience and local knowledge to your advantage. Be like a sponge and absorb all that you can manage and everything you learn during the trip can only make you a better overall angler. Observe how the guides maneuver their boats, how they look for the fish or the slight signs of bait. Ask them to show you how to rig your outfits properly or at least ask them to inspect your rigging to see if you’ve done them right. The guides will always offer you the best advice possible for the best chances of success and if they see that your knots are not up to par, they’ll tie them on for you with no dramas (although it is appreciated if you watch and learn to do it yourself the next few times you rig).
Your years of experience at home may not apply to the current destination you are in so listen to your guide. And always remember to be polite and kind to your guides and crew. Kindness is always reciprocated, and you may even find life-long friendships wherever you decide to fish.
Safety entails a lot of things when travelling. When you book through a professional charter operator, you’ll be in very safe hands and you won’t have anything to worry about. If you go the DIY route it pays to take precaution of the following:
Physical safety: know where you are going. Not all places are safe for tourists and be mindful of your surroundings. If possible, always travel with someone else or with a local guide.
Theft: Always be aware of your surroundings and never get slack when taking care of your stuff. Keep passports, money and other important articles with you at all times. Keep them safe in a backpack or small bag that you always carry.
Health: your research shouldn’t stop at just the fishing and travelling. Check what diseases you should look out for like Malaria or Dengue. If your gut is sensitive, be wary of food poisoning. Drink only bottled water if possible and eat food that you are used to. It can be very tempting to try the local cuisine but do it if your gut can take it.
Your safety on the fishing trip itself will be well looked after by the guides and crew but make sure to inform them if you have any food allergies and medical conditions that they should be aware of so they can prepare in advance.
Emergency evacuation and health insurance is also important. It is extremely useful when you need it.
It always pays to keep an open mind when fishing with a guide.
Once your trip is done and the adrenaline has worn off, you tend to kick back and forget about the post trip responsibilities that you should take care of. After your last day of angling, it pays to clean all of your fishing gear and equipment. Wash them all of with fresh water and pack them nicely. Organize everything to make it easier for you to store them when you reach home. It may be a bit OCD but I recommend that you do another round of tackle cleaning once you get home and unpack. After the second round of cleaning, store all your gear in their proper places and you’ll always remember where everything is once you get ready for another international fishing trip.
Gratuities are a sensitive topic but I advise that you allot some of your travel funds to tips for the guides and crew. I don’t like giving percentages or fixed amounts when giving advice about tips but I do recommend that you give tips based on your overall experience, not just based on the amounts of fish you’ve caught. Remember that guiding is hard work. It looks easy when the fish are on but gets extremely difficult if the conditions get tough. If you don’t have enough cash, show them some love and appreciation after the trip. Kindness is the best currency.
Once you’ve gotten past your fishing hangover and you’ve settled back into the reality of work and family life, you’ll have insane memories of you last trip to look back to when you face the daily challenges of life. Once you’ve had enough of reality, go back to step one and plan your next trip to another part of the world.
Maybe bring your friends this time?