The topic that intrigued me the most was, "If you had one year to travel, where would you go?" The answers around the table came fast and furious.... Because that topic was so long and broad, we quickly trimmed it down to, "What four places would you spend the four seasons?" The answers among everyone seated were very broad and interesting.
Wyoming, Prague, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Paris, South Africa and the Alps were among some of my various nieces' answers. When it was my turn, I thought about it and said this: I would begin in the Autumn....
Having just read David DiBenedetto's book "On the Run", regarding following the migrating striped bass from Maine down to the Outer Banks, while it certainly wouldn't be original - since he has already done it - it sure would be fun. Without question, the striper is my favorite fish to catch. From delicious hard-fighting schoolies from my kayak, to 20 pounders in the surf, to citation stripers from a charter, I love catching these great fish. So why not repeat what Mr. DiBenedetto already did. Rather than describe it in great detail here, I will link you to his book; it's worth the read if you love stripers as much as I do."On the Run" An Angler's Journey Down the Striper Coast.
|An easy and entertaining read, if you love striper fishing as much as I do.|
So that would take care of September through December, as I followed the rockfish along their route south. I certainly am familiar with how to fish for them from the Delmarva Peninsula and on south through Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay, and the OBX, but learning about how "Yankees" fish for them in New England, using plugs and lures, primarily, would be a lot of fun. And catching 40 pound + fish from the rocky surf would be a blast! The only chapter I'm not so sure I would want to duplicate is the chapter on "skishing". You'll have to read it to to understand. I think those days of being "brave" enough to do that, are behind me....
So it's now January. Winter time. I've spent the holidays at home (see how practical I am so far? By December I'm within a couple hours from home), and now I'm ready to continue my dream year. I had one of my nieces ask me if I would want to spend the winter ice-fishing in Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes.... Um, let me think about that for a moment.... NO!
I mean, I like snow as much as the next guy, but, with all due respect to those that live up in that region of the country,... well, how do you put this.... There's a reason that Diehard Batteries used to do a commercial in International Falls, MN. It's the coldest part of our country. They weren't filming there, trying to sell their durable batteries because it was the most beautiful place in the country. You know what I mean?
Diehard Battery Commercial from MN
And when you look at a chart that shows every location in the U.S. that has had days with temperatures of -50 degrees F or below, Minnesota and Montana pretty much dominate the chart. So, I'm not interested in going to Montana (yet*) either. Or Wyoming (yet*).
|Glasgow, Montana||-59||-50.6||February 15, 1936|
|Thoeny, Montana||-59||-50.6||January 20, 1954|
|West Yellowstone, Montana||-59||-50.6||December 19, 1924|
|Jordan, Montana||-58||-50.0||February 14, 1936|
|McIntosh, South Dakota||-58||-50.0||February 17, 1936|
|Medicine Lake, Montana||-58||-50.0||February 16, 1936|
|Bondurant, Wyoming||-57||-49.4||February 1, 1951|
|Camp Crook, South Dakota||-57||-49.4||January 12, 1916|
|Cascade, Montana||-57||-49.4||February 15, 1936|
|Chester, Montana||-57||-49.4||January 25, 1950|
|Culbertson, Montana||-57||-49.4||February 16, 1936|
|Embarrass, Minnesota||-57||-49.4||January 20, 1996|
|Frazer, Montana||-57||-49.4||January 20, 1954|
|Havre, Montana||-57||-49.4||January 27, 1916|
|Wolf Point, Montana||-57||-49.4||January 26, 1950|
|Browning, Montana||-56||-48.9||January 24, 1916|
|Fairview, Montana||-56||-48.9||February 15, 1936|
|Lake Yellowstone, Wyoming||-56||-48.9||February 9, 1933|
|Malta, Montana||-56||-48.9||January 12, 1916|
|Couderay, Wisconsin||-55||-48.3||February 2, 1996|
|Dixon, Wyoming||-55||-48.3||January 12, 1963|
|Hinsdale, Montana||-55||-48.3||January 25, 1969|
|Lamar Ranger Station, Wyoming||-55||-48.3||January 10, 1962|
|Sugarloaf Reservoir, Colorado||-55||-48.3||January 10, 1962|
|Summit, Montana||-55||-48.3||January 3, 1959|
|Trident, Montana||-55||-48.3||December 31, 1927|
|Wisdom, Montana||-55||-48.3||December 23, 1983|
|Antero Reservoir, Colorado||-54||-47.8||January 10, 1962|
|Brainerd, Minnesota||-54||-47.8||February 2, 1996|
|Echeta, Wyoming||-54||-47.8||December 24, 1983|
|Hinsdale, Montana||-54||-47.8||January 26, 1950|
|Ingomar, Montana||-54||-47.8||December 22, 1989|
|Loma , Montana||-54||-47.8||January 14, 1972|
|Popla, Montana||-54||-47.8||February 2, 1893|
|Seneca, Oregon||-54||-47.8||February 10, 1933|
|Stanley, Idaho||-54||-47.8||December 23, 1983|
|Steamboat Springs, Colorado||-54||-47.8||January 7, 1913|
|Ukiah, Oregon||-54||-47.8||February 9, 1933|
|Fosston, Minnesota||-53||-47.2||February 1, 1996|
|Fraser, Colorado||-53||-47.2||January 10, 1962|
|Huntley, Montana||-53||-47.2||February 14, 1936|
|Lincoln, Montana||-53||-47.2||November 16, 1959|
|Lone Rock Tri County Airport, Wisconsin||-53||-47.2||January 30, 1951|
|Moose Lake, Minnesota||-53||-47.2||January 15, 1972|
|Pine River Dam, Minnesota||-53||-47.2||January 12, 1912|
|Redstone, Montana||-53||-47.2||January 20, 1954|
|Savage, Montana||-53||-47.2||February 16, 1936|
|Tiber Dam, Montana||-53||-47.2||January 20, 1954|
|Austin, Oregon||-52||-46.7||January 8, 1937|
|Babb, Montana||-52||-46.7||January 30, 1950|
|Baudette, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||February 19, 1966|
|Big Sandy, Montana||-52||-46.7||February 15, 1936|
|Boulder Rearing Station, Wyoming||-52||-46.7||December 22, 1990|
|Bredette, Montana||-52||-46.7||January 20, 1954|
|Busby, Montana||-52||-46.7||December 22, 1989|
|Butte, Montana||-52||-46.7||February 9, 1933|
|Elbowoods, North Dakota||-52||-46.7||January 18, 1950|
|Fairfield, Idaho||-52||-46.7||December 22, 1990|
|Farson, Wyoming||-52||-46.7||December 31, 1978|
|Havre, Montana||-52||-46.7||January 24, 1969|
|Itasca, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||February 2, 1996|
|Kendall, Wyoming||-52||-46.7||January 17, 1930|
|La Barge, Wyoming||-52||-46.7||December 23, 1990|
|Lonesome Lake, Montana||-52||-46.7||January 24, 1969|
|Mora, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||December 18, 1983|
|Old Forge, New York||-52||-46.7||February 18, 1979|
|Ovando, Montana||-52||-46.7||February 9, 1933|
|Plevna, Montana||-52||-46.7||January 12, 1916|
|Roseau, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||February 2, 1996|
|Roundup, Montana||-52||-46.7||February 15, 1936|
|Tamarac Wildlife Refuge, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||February 1, 1996|
|Wright, Minnesota||-52||-46.7||January 15, 1972|
|Augusta, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 10, 1909|
|Babbitt, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||January 17, 2005|
|Big Falls Hydro, Wisconsin||-51||-46.1||February 2, 1996|
|Big Falls, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||January 20, 1996|
|Crookston, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||February 15, 1936|
|Eagle Airport, Colorado||-51||-46.1||January 12, 1963|
|Forks, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 12, 1916|
|Grand Rapids, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||January 26, 1927|
|Hatfield Dam, Wisconsin||-51||-46.1||January 30, 1951|
|Idaho Falls, Idaho||-51||-46.1||January 12, 1963|
|Lame Deer, Montana||-51||-46.1||December 22, 1989|
|Langdon, North Dakota||-51||-46.1||February 16, 1936|
|Malta, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 24, 1969|
|Marcell, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||February 3, 1996|
|Meadowlands, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||January 30, 1950|
|Minong, Wisconsin||-51||-46.1||January 15, 1972|
|Opheim, Montana||-51||-46.1||February 28, 1962|
|Ovando, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 26, 1957|
|Park Rapids, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||February 2, 1996|
|Recluse, Wyoming||-51||-46.1||December 24, 1983|
|Remer, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||February 2, 1996|
|Ridgeway, Montana||-51||-46.1||December 22, 1989|
|Sage, Wyoming||-51||-46.1||January 1, 1979|
|Sun River, Montana||-51||-46.1||December 29, 1968|
|Ten Sleep, Wyoming||-51||-46.1||December 22, 1990|
|Thorhult, Minnesota||-51||-46.1||February 1, 1996|
|Vanderbilt, Michigan||-51||-46.1||February 9, 1934|
|West Yellowstone, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 12, 2007|
|Worland, Wyoming||-51||-46.1||January 17, 1930|
|Yellowstone National Park, Montana||-51||-46.1||January 12, 1963|
|Zortman, Montana||-51||-46.1||December 22, 1990|
|Almont, North Dakota||-50||-45.6||December 23, 1983|
|Baggs, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||January 18, 1984|
|Ballantine, Montana||-50||-45.6||February 15, 1936|
|Bemidji, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 30, 1950|
|Big Black River, Maine||-50||-45.6||January 16, 2009|
|Big Piney, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||December 23, 1983|
|Bigfork, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 15, 1972|
|Bloomfield, Vermont||-50||-45.6||December 30, 1933|
|Brimson, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 31, 1996|
|Chinook, Montana||-50||-45.6||January 20, 1954|
|Choteau, Montana||-50||-45.6||February 15, 1936|
|Cook, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 14, 1965|
|Cotton, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 14, 1965|
|Crow Agency, Montana||-50||-45.6||February 15, 1936|
|Daniel Fish Hatchery, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||December 22, 1990|
|Denton, Montana||-50||-45.6||December 24, 1983|
|Driggs, Idaho||-50||-45.6||February 9, 1933|
|Eureka Ranger Station, Montana||-50||-45.6||December 30, 1968|
|Floodwood, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 20, 1996|
|Gavilan, New Mexico||-50||-45.6||February 1, 1951|
|Glendive, Montana||-50||-45.6||February 16, 1936|
|Harlem , Montana||-50||-45.6||January 24, 1969|
|Hibbing Airport, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 20, 1996|
|Hysham, Montana||-50||-45.6||December 22, 1989|
|Jackson, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||January 1, 1979|
|Lake George, Colorado||-50||-45.6||January 10, 1962|
|Lake Yellowstone, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||January 12, 1963|
|Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin||-50||-45.6||January 30, 1951|
|Laramie Airport, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||January 12, 1963|
|Littlefork, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||February 2, 1996|
|Loring , Montana||-50||-45.6||January 20, 1954|
|Many Glacier, Montana||-50||-45.6||January 27, 1972|
|Mildred, Montana||-50||-45.6||February 16, 1936|
|Mitchell, South Dakota||-50||-45.6||January 25, 1955|
|Mount Washington, New Hampshire||-50||-45.6||January 22, 1885|
|Potomac, Montana||-50||-45.6||December 23, 1983|
|Red Lake Falls, Minnesota||-50||-45.6||January 21, 1954|
|Saco, Montana||-50||-45.6||January 25, 1969|
|San Jacinto, Nevada||-50||-45.6||January 8, 1937|
|Spicer, Colorado||-50||-45.6||February 6, 1989|
|Strawberry Tunnel East, Utah||-50||-45.6||January 5, 1913|
|Tioga, North Dakota||-50||-45.6||December 24, 1983|
|Williston, North Dakota||-50||-45.6||December 23, 1983|
|Worland Airport, Wyoming||-50||-45.6||December 21, 1990|
ReferenceNational Climatic Data Center. Comparative Climatic Data.
- So where would I go? Well, my parents live down in Florida, so, doesn't it make sense that I would want to visit them right after the holidays? Isn't that what a good son would do? So why not fish the entire Gulf Coast during the winter months? I'd start in the Keys, and spend about a month there, from Key Largo to Islamorada, to Marathon, to Big Pine Key and Key West, I've seen enough fishing shows on the Versus channel to know that the fishing there is incredible! From deep sea fishing for sailfish and marlin, to inshore (fly)fishing for permit, tarpon and bonefish, that would be a great way to start the new year during the winter months. Florida Keys Website. I've never caught any of those species I just mentioned. And this being the "Sportfishing capital of the world", I would stay there until I've caught all of them.
Islamorada: Sportfishing capital of the world
Then, after a quick visit with my parents in Sarasota, I've got a cousin who lives in the Fort Meyers area, who loves to catch snook. So next I would go kayak fishing the canals, backwaters, and inlets of that region for snook. Having never caught a snook either, it is definitely another fish on my bucket list -- as it's supposed to be delicious, too.
My Bucket List of Fish I Haven't Caught Yet
On a side note, if I time it all right, perhaps I'll be in New Orleans right around Mardi Gras, enjoying some of Paul Prudhomme's blackened redfish, some crawfish and oysters while watching the parades and festivities.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
After I've recovered from Fat Tuesday, I'll keep going around the coast and into Texas. There, I'll look to go offshore and do some tuna fishing, in addition to deep water fishing around some of the rigs and wrecks for grouper, jacks, cobia, kingfish, snapper and whatever else we may catch. Then, with my year half over, I may need a break.
After spending Easter at home again, it's time for the spring time.
And what fish is sought after the most in the spring, as the winter snows melt in the mountains, and run downstream into the cold, crisp waters of fast moving rivers? Trout. Brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, it doesn't really matter. It's time to pick up my fly rod, and head out west -- to the clear mountain streams of Wyoming, Colorado and, of course Montana. Anyone who has ever seen the film "A River Runs Through It" has seen the beauty that is Montana, and to fish those streams for a hard-fighting rainbow is truly a dream of mine -- even if I don't look like Brad Pitt.
|A great movie about a good Presbyterian minister and his sons. But it's the cinematography and the fishing scenes that steal the show, in my humble Presbyterian opinion.|
|The art that is flyfishing really hasn't changed in the last hundred years. It is an art I would like to master.... or at least get a whole lot better at.|
And that takes us into June, and the final season of my dream year. I'm going to cheat a little here. Because while my ultimate destination for the summer is a place that I have visited, there is a stop or two I'd want to make before I keep heading north.
There are two other fish on my bucket list I'd like to tackle. They are the walleye and muskellunge, aka, the muskie. And I guess this is when I would head for a brief stop to the place I disrespected earlier, the Land of 10,000 Lakes -- Minnesota.
Jigging and trolling for walleye is how I would start this brief trip; but the highlight I would really look forward to is catching a 50" muskie on some sort of loud, spinning, whirling plug. I can think of no greater excitement than watching a massive beast explode through the calm surface of the early morning water, attacking my lure while I'm reeling it back. And then, just hold on!
|This much larger cousin of the yellow perch is supposed to be hard-fighting -- and delicious.||The Walleye|
|The big brother of the Northern Pike, the Muskellunge or "Muskie" is the king of the northern lakes.|
Back to Alaska, where I'm sure my buddy Joel would join me, to catch the king salmon and sockeye runs, in addition to some more halibut and lingcod. Of course, while I wouldn't mind revisiting the Kenai Peninsula, there are other parts of Alaska I would want to try, as well. When Parke and I went before, we slammed the sockeye, limiting out wherever we fished for them. Same for the halibut. But we never caught a king (or chinook) salmon, and we never caught a lingcod.
|the King Salmon, or Chinook, is the largest of all the salmonid fishes. It is as delicious as a sockeye.|
|Looking kind of like an overgrown big brother of an oyster toad, what the ling cod lacks in physical beauty, it makes up for in delicious white flaky flesh.|
So I would definitely like to mark these two fish off my list, too. And, since I've mastered fly fishing now after my spring in the Rocky Mountain states (ha ha), I would go after one last anadromous fish - the steelhead trout. "Anadromous" is a $.25 word that describes fish that spend parts of their lives in fresh water (usually growing up and later spawning there) and then migrating out to sea to grow, feed and reach maturity, before returning to their streams to spawn -- and in the case of some salmon, die.
My fishing buddy Mike has caught steelhead where he grew up in Ohio, using a "noodle rod". But I'm thinking if he hasn't joined me for any of my trip so far, he's definitely with me by the time we hit Alaska, for sure. (Actually, this is my dream year trip, but I'm wondering how many of my "Boys' Weekend" friends are thinking, "Let's make this a "Boys' Year"!)
Assuming I caught one of the steelhead making its "late summer" run, my year would now be complete.
But I can think of no better way to tie it all together, because across the continent to the east, and just to the south of Canada in Maine, another anadromous fish is beginning it's migration pattern again... the striped bass is heading south for the fall and winter.... And so will I.
Now all I need are some sponsors and the funding to make this happen.... Berkley? Penn? St. Croix? Please contact me a.s.a.p.
Until next time, in my dreams....
P.S. After I've accomplished this dream year, I'll work on my International Dream Year. Trout in New Zealand, beautifully colored peacock bass in South America, tiger fish (which look like the Mr. Hyde version of a striped bass) in Africa, massive sturgeon around Eurasia.... Who's going to go with me, and what other ideas do you have...?
|The peacock bass is native to South America, though there are lakes in Florida where it is stocked.... Hmmm....|
|The Tiger fish of Africa's fresh waters grows quite large, and is a prized gamefish there. One day..... One day....|
P.P.S. What is my family doing this entire time? Well, since this is MY dream, they are with me, as we caravan in two John Madden-like RV's around North America. See, I've thought it all out. It could happen....