The Multipurpose Fishing Trip By Matt Carey

The Multipurpose Fishing Trip By Matt Carey

 I have to start off this article with the obvious: I love reeling in the trophy fish as much as the next guy.  My trophy case might be a little bare, but that’s beside the point. If there’s an opportunity to get into a big fish, I am as excited as anyone. The reality is we don’t always end our fishing trips with those monsters. Sometimes we’re lucky to even get a bite all day. Maybe what’s even more disheartening than the slow, sporadic bite with a few lost fish here and there is the one fish you do land that ends up a fishing tale for the wrong reasons. That one guppy you sling over the side of the boat. The fish you’re talking up as you reel in. “It might have some weight behind those shoulders” ... “Last time we were here I hooked into that (insert exaggerated size fish), you all remember that one...!”  I have my issues, and giving my buddies more ammunition than they already have by way of an embarrassing fish doesn’t have to be on the list! 


So, what do we do with our time on the water when the fishing isn’t as great as we hoped? I think some of the best parts about fishing are all the extras that come with it. I don’t mean different gear or setups. I don’t mean using a drift boat versus one with multiple props. I don’t even mean the variety of species out in the water. I think about the extras associated with fishing that make for lasting memories. The kind of fishing trip where you look back and remember the fishing and everything else. Time with friends or family. The time spent on the shore with kids or pets. When you combine a fishing trip that has a great time on the water with a great time on the land, it’s hard to beat anything else.  




Cooney Reservoir outside of Billings, MT comes to my mind when I think about this multipurpose fishing trip. My in-laws had something of a family reunion planned for the summer. Within their immediate family, my wife and her siblings, kids etc. there are almost 20 people. The reservoir is for some a 30-minute drive and others an hour and half drive. Manageable for everybody. Being the only boat owner in the group, we agreed to bring our Klamath. Not a grandiose vessel, but reliable, and a good opportunity to let the nieces and nephews get some exposure to fishing and boating. I brought some fishing gear that is pretty user friendly. Spinning reels with plugs and jigs. Open the spool, cast the line. So simple, kids could do it. Between taking turns getting everyone out on the water who wanted to go and practicing patience with other people’s kids, the fishing left something to be desired. Still, we caught a few nice perch and I was able to get my brother-in-law and his kids on a few more bites. Here’s where the “extras” come in.  


Seeing jet skis, pontoons and other larger boats pull skiers and tubers led to some envy among the kids in our camp. We did have a little raft that could get hooked up to the boat, some rope, life vests, flags (remember this part in a second), and enough power in the motor to at least tug along kids wanting to enjoy the tubing action. So, I turned over the keys and let my brother-in-law take a spin with his kids. On land I was enjoying some BBQ, swimming in the shallows with those on shore, and enjoying a typical day at the beach. Some time to chat with my in-laws, watching my dog swim and chase after a ball. All the extras that can go into a great fishing trip. Sometimes our fishing trips don’t have to be about limiting out or bragging rights. I had just as much fun on the shore as I did out on the boat. The experience of being with others is as important as the fish you catch. Or, even more important. Fishing itself can be a small part of a great memory and we as outdoorsmen/women cannot understate that.  



Oh, and the flag? Well, a miscommunication happened between my brother-in-law and I which led to a “friendly” conversation between him and a game warden about needing to use the flag when someone is in the water. I swear I told him, but he swears he didn’t hear me say anything about it. Thankfully it wasn’t a huge issue, and everything turned out fine. It’s a friendly talking point for me when I have some lighthearted banter I need to call back to. 

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