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Make Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s resolutions have spawned more jokes than life changes. Still, it’s a good idea to look back on the past year and reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

An example might be remembering a fish lost to a failed knot. Resolve to always carefully tie knots, wetting them and carefully tightening them. The same applies to sharpening hooks, checking the drag and inspecting line for nicks and abrasions.

Tackle and organization are certainly places to start, but extend that same thinking to other equipment like your boat and motor, waders, push pole, trolling motor and wading boots. As experience teaches us, it’s the little things that we overlook that come back to haunt us. On the water, consider thinking out of the proverbial “box” by altering your routine strategy. Many anglers go fishing with a plan and never deviate from it. They start at one spot and hit all the usual “holes” during the day. A different option? Try planning to fish only places you’ve never explored before. I’ve done this and been amazed at how many unique areas and new opportunities I’ve found. Make a note of the moon phase, tide stage, wind direction and water temperature. Looking at the same places with this information and “new eyes” can be revealing.

Mark McBride, Bobby Lopez and Dan Madole found these impressive grouper in Tampa Bay. – Rusty Chinnis | Sun

Also consider trying a new place altogether. There are lots of beautiful and productive destinations within a few hours north and south of Anna Maria. Drive two hours north and you can explore the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge and just north of there, Homosassa, Crystal River, and Yankeetown.  Less than two hours south and you’re in Charlotte Harbor and adjacent to Pine Island Sound. Too far? Anyone with a boat can leave Anna Maria and be fishing in fresh water in less than an hour. The Manatee and Braden rivers provide anglers with a variety of fish from tarpon to catfish, redfish to bass. Both rivers also have numerous launch sites for boats, kayaks and paddleboards.

It might even prove useful to review how you approach fishing. If you’re a fly caster, look at ways you might improve your casting and consider learning how to cast with your non-dominant hand and tie flies. Anglers who use conventional tackle might want to try artificial lures instead of always relying on live bait.

I have a final suggestion that might be the most important. Get involved in working to keep our waters fishable and swimmable. Join with like-minded individuals, write letters to policymakers, attend commission meetings and lobby state officials to protect our water quality, habitat and fisheries. All the well-intended resolutions won’t amount to much if we don’t. No matter how long you’ve been fishing or what your level of competency, there’s always room for improvement. Environmental advocacy, a general review of your tackle, technique and the opportunities available to you can only improve your enjoyment of fishing moving into 2021 and beyond. Happy New Year!