My early fishing life was spent roaming around ponds, reservoirs and streams that I could reach by bicycle. I’d take the shoelaces out of my Chuck Taylor All-Stars (which my kids tell me are once again fashionable), tie a spinning rod to the bike frame, load up a backpack with tackle, and head out. My friends Chris and Andy would do the same, and we’d pedal off for the day.
When we arrived at our destination we’d untie the rods from our bikes and put the laces back in our sneakers. In our minds, no bass, bluegill, perch, or pumpkinseed was safe. Between the three of us we would bring home enough fish to feed two households, and everything was about as perfect as it could be.
After I got my driver’s license I got the itch to see more of the fishing world, and my trips expanded by leaps and bounds. I started hitting the trout streams and rivers on the other side of the state. Then, I learned more about the opportunities in the neighboring states and crossed the borders. Finally, I cut a path throughout the region, always looking for the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the fishing rainbow.
As the years passed, credit cards made for easy financing, and I charged a bunch of trips to other parts of the country as well as to other parts of the world. I caught big browns in the Rocky Mountains, tarpon in Florida and bonefish in the Bahamas. When I returned home I would pick up more work than I could handle so I could finance my fishing habit. I lived for the opportunity to take a week off and to fish someplace I’d never fished before.
Then one day, I drove past a bay that had been my favorite place. It’s at the back edge of a small salt pond where it’s quiet and serene. Not many people know how to get there, and the fishing for striped bass and bluefish is outstanding in the early spring. I tried to remember the last time I fished it and realized that it had been several years. I rolled down the window to smell the salty air and I realized how much I had missed it.
I still travel to fish, but now-a-days it has to be to a special place with a special group of family or friends. I get more enjoyment deflating the tires of my CJ5 and running the beaches that are a stone’s throw from my driveway than catching a puddle jumper to some new hotspot. At home I catch ‘em up on some days and on other days I don’t. Someday I’ll get around to fishing all of the emerging new places. But I won’t do it at the expense of fishing my home waters. The far away places all pale in comparison with what’s in my own back yard. I’m sure it’s the same with you.
Tom Keer is a freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.thekeergroup.com or at www.tomkeer.com .