Sometimes life happens. That's when it's most important to remember what fishing's all about.
Fishing is an awesome pastime, but admittedly, it's sometimes hard to carve out time for it. Life just gets in the way, whether that be having kids, starting a new job or whatever. Anglers fall out of fishing for many reasons.
I know I've fallen out of it a few times myself over the years for varying reasons.
But now is the time to rediscover what you loved about fishing. And it can be easier than you think.
You don't need a big boat or fancy electronics
Maybe you or someone you know has completely quit fishing because they were forced to sell their boat. It seems to me this is one of the biggest reasons many anglers quit.
I get it. Every TV show or advertising spot seems to be tailored to anglers who own their own boat. It is true that having one makes every fishing season easier, but it isn't the only way to fish!
Catching fish isn't difficult. Sometimes rediscovering fishing can be as simple as throwing a few rods and tackle in the back of the truck and stopping at a roadside bridge on your way home from work. There are plenty of ponds and streams in parks that are great for bass fishing.
You may think you need a boat to catch species like walleye or salmon, but I've discovered places where these species can be caught from the bank. Often, I've found them completely by accident while just blindly exploring.
Go out for a drive around your area and note where water looks accessible. Usually, you can find something relatively close by. It really is amazing just what you can catch while shore fishing if you find the right location.
Sure, it can be harder to get back into the more involved parts, like deep sea saltwater fishing. You may not be able to fish for big species like sailfish or tuna. But you could take up surf or pier fishing and try catching some new species.
Another option for fishing without a big boat is to simplify what you're doing. Buy a kayak, canoe or fishing tube. These are all inexpensive options and in many states they don't require expensive boat insurance or registration, making them a very budget-friendly option for anglers who don't think they can afford it anymore.
For years I fished almost exclusively for largemouth bass. I caught and released literally thousands of them. After a while, I started getting a little bored.
Largemouths, for the most part, max out at about five pounds here in Michigan. After you've caught a few of those, there isn't much left to do. I ended up moving on to other hobbies and barely fished for years.
However, the last few years I've made something of a comeback. I've been spending more and more time bank fishing rivers for smallmouths. It was a breath of fresh air, because smallies fight so much harder, pound-for-pound, than their larger cousins.
In recent years, my goal each fishing season has been to catch at least one new species. There is something really exciting when you catch a fish you've never caught before. I love catching northern pike, and it's always a rush when I boat one, no matter the size. They just don't happen that frequently for me. Every time I've caught one, it has re-energized me into targeting them for months afterwards.
One of the best ways to re-charge your love of fishing is to try something dramatically new. Have you gotten bored with bluegill and crappie? Give catfishing a try. Have you done bass fishing to death like I have? Maybe it's time to go after pike and muskie. You may find some species surprise you.
I always thought of catfish as a lazy and not very desirable fish. That all changed the first time I hooked into a channel cat. They are one of the hardest-fighting fish I've ever tangled with, and that first fight changed my whole perception on the species. Now I own a heavy catfish spinning rig specifically for targeting them.
I've also taken a real interest in the species that many anglers dismiss as "trash fish." It has been a fun challenge trying to locate and catch fish like carp, gar and bowfin. I quickly found out that a lot of these fish seem to be completely misunderstood. While they may not be great eating, they are hard-fighting and a blast to catch!
Another way to combat burnout is to try a new alternative form of fishing. Take bowfishing, for instance. Maybe you've always wanted to learn fly fishing but just haven't gotten around to it. Do you live in a state where you can spearfish?
Start slow, and watch videos on the basics here on Wide Open Spaces or on YouTube. Do your research and you'll be able to easily transition into a totally new form of fishing.
There is always time for fishing
I've heard many anglers mutter they don't fish anymore because they don't have the time. I can understand; between work and other obligations it's a challenge. But who says you need to invest a full day on the water?
Remember when I mentioned bank fishing earlier in this article? You can squeeze that in practically any time. As a freelance journalist, my schedule is always packed. Yet I don't like to waste those precious moments of free time I have between writing for this site during the day and covering local sports later in the evening. It isn't too much of a detour to run down some backcountry roads and fish a few bridges.
One summer I worked a job in a factory and had to leave the house at 5:00 a.m. At the time, I lived at a house with a small pond. Because it was hot that summer and I had no time to fish during the day, I started going to bed earlier and waking up at 3 a.m. instead. That gave me a couple hours to fish in the pre-dawn darkness before I had to go.
Guess what? I caught a TON of fish because the bite was so strong. I think it's because they weren't used to anyone fishing for them at that early hour.
Anyone who complains they don't have time for fishing trips isn't being creative enough. There is always time for fishing. Remember that the fish usually don't care what time it is. In fact, fishing at weird hours can work in your favor in highly-pressured areas. Odds are, the fish won't be expecting you.
Taking someone new
Perhaps one of the best ways to rekindle your love of fishing is to simply introduce someone new to the sport. I'm not a parent, but I've heard of many parents who were able to jump-start their passion for angling once their children were old enough and took to it.
Sometimes reintroducing someone else will help. When my grandmother was still alive, I once rigged her up with a simple stick and line to fish out of our pond. She absolutely loved it, and soon bought a few cane poles and tackle.
She fished with those simple cane poles for years after that, until her health prevented her from getting out. But it was quite a rewarding thing to see her rediscover her love of something at such an old age. It made me want to go out fishing more often after that.
Any friend or family member who doesn't fish deserves a day out, and seeing someone get excited is a great way to get excited yourself.
Getting back is easier than you think
I think the biggest hurdle to getting back into fishing is getting over the excuses. Yes, we all have things we need to do that cut into our free time. Sometimes getting back into it is as simple as changing our fishing style or the locations we frequent. Like I said, get creative!
Or, maybe you've just been misusing your free time. Maybe it's too much time in front of the TV or staring at your phone, and not enough time peering into the local lake or stream.
It doesn't even matter if you catch anything or not. It's about getting out of the house and into the great outdoors.
The great thing about fishing is that it is a very versatile hobby. You don't need to plan a huge trip. It can be done almost any time at any body of water that holds fish.
Sometimes, all you need is one catch to get you hooked again. Pun definitely intended.