For anglers of any age, nothing beats the thrill of experiencing the wonder and adventure of staying at a fishing lodge or fishing camp.
Whether you are hoping to find easy-to-catch fish, or just some rest and relaxation, there is a lodge or camp available that is right for you. But how do you choose the perfect lodge, and what are the criteria to follow when making that all-important booking decision? Follow these tips and be prepared to experience your own wilderness utopia.
Defining Your Needs
When picking a lodge or fishing camp for the first time, you must decide what you want to experience and enjoy during your stay. If fishing is the sole reason for taking the trip, then your search can be immediately narrowed down. However, if your family is taking part in the excursion, you have to make sure that the establishment has activities that cater to the entire family.
To Stay or Go?
One of the big thrills of getting away to a fishing lodge is precisely that -- getting away. But important decisions must be made on how far away from home you can afford to go. Fly-in lodges are always more expensive than drive-in for obvious reasons. Fly-in's do offer the remoteness, solitude that many of us crave, although it does come at a price. If you are looking for that "once-in-a-lifetime" experience, then a fly-in would definitely be the way to go. If, however, you would prefer to make your trip an annual event, then perhaps the less costly drive-in would be best suited to you.
Time Of Year
Depending on the time of year or season, rates for lodges can vary drastically. Peak summer months will always be the most expensive, while spring and fall trips will generally offer considerable savings. Fishing can often be best during these off-peak times, and the weather can frequently be more comfortable and refreshing.
Spring walleye fishing is an example of fishing being better during off-peak periods, as is fall muskie fishing. Investigate the species you are after and the weather history for the area you intend to travel to, and reap the rewards of lower rates during the "other" seasons offered.
There are numerous ways to save money while heading to a lodge, and I have taken advantage of some of them for added discounts in the end. If you own a boat, and the lodge is within driving distance, savings can be incurred by simply taking your own boat instead of renting one during your stay.
Another tip is to take your own food if you are staying in a self-sufficient (housekeeping) accommodation, instead of paying the extra cost of having your meals prepared for you.
Although many anglers enjoy these "luxuries," and find that these perks are one of the reasons for going, my aim is to point out that those that think they can't afford a trip away can readily do so if they pass on some of the fancy trimmings.
Ask Many Questions
My best advice for choosing the lodge that is right for you is to do some thorough investigating and to ask many questions. Lodge owners are more than happy to answer any of the concerns or queries you may have. Here are some questions to get you started:
1. How long have you been in the business?
2. What activities do you offer, for both the fisherman and family members?
3. May I bring my own boat?
4. What are the fish limits, slot restrictions?
5. What species of fish are found in your lake and what is the success rate of your guests?
6. Do you offer a cancellation refund in case of an emergency?
7. What were some of the memorable catches from the previous year?
8. Do you belong to any lodge associations or designations?
9. What's included in the rate, and what's not included?
10. How much is bait and gasoline?
11. Do you offer ice, freezer space?
12. What makes your lodge different than most others?
13. How old are the cabins/units? Do they have electricity, appliances, bathroom facilities?
14. Are pets allowed?
15. Can a fishing license/tackle/groceries be purchased on site?
Experience the thrill that fishing lodges or camps offer by finding one that suits your needs. By putting in a bit of homework and pre-planning your trip, there will be no surprises.
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