Length Matters


The Robbins family, all of us consummate planners, has already locked in our first two away games of the 2020 fishing season – first a week in Mexico for bass in January, and then a shorter trip to a yet-to-be-disclosed offshore location in February.

The latter trip has me a bit worried. It’s nothing about the location or the fishing itself. The operation comes highly recommended by a few friends who’ve been there, and almost universally in online reviews. The fishing promises to be excellent, although fishing being fishing there could be some glitches. The food, boats, tackle and beverages are all going to be top shelf.

It's the duration of the trip that has me worried. Three days on the water, especially in a bucket list location, leaves a lot of potential for mayhem. Your flight could be delayed or canceled, at which point you’ve lost a day, even in a place like this one that doesn’t seem to be difficult to reach. Similarly, weather could mess up one or more days.

On top of that, there’s the potential for human error. If you make a mistake on a key fish, or don’t pick up the techniques quickly, you’re done. Thank you very much for playing, see you again never.

I’ve seen it happen again and again to people who come to Mexico for three days. Maybe the first day they avoid the guide’s advice and waste time throwing the kitchen sink. The second day, perhaps the bite changes, or it’s a little off. Then, on the final day, they’re so busy making up for lost time that they press too hard and fail to fish thoroughly. They may still have fun, but they don’t get maximum benefits.

In this case, the cost of each day at the lodge and the four complicated schedules of the travelers make anything more than three days impossible, so we’ll gladly take what we can get. After all, 50% of something is much better than 100% of nothing. I’ve been on plenty of bucket-list-type trips, though, and I strongly encourage you to extend them beyond the bare minimum whenever possible. After you’ve sunk money into specialized gear, a plane ticket and other fixed costs, the additional fee for another day or two may not be insignificant, but it’s likely worth some overtime at work, or selling your blood or not sending your kid to college.

I think back on my first trip to the Amazon, when I had very little idea about how to fish for peacocks. The first session out I boogered up several Woodchopper bites that I’m pretty sure I would’ve landed a few days later. After my second trip the following year, they would’ve been second nature. If we’d been there three days instead of a week, I would’ve farted away a third of my trip fishing improperly. By building in the additional cushion, not only could I develop my skills with that lure, but with others as well. When pressure’s off, I tend to fish much cleaner.

If two or three or four days is all that you can afford or squeeze in, by all means take it. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good – I’m living proof that every three-day weekend is an excuse to go someplace fun. Still, if you’ve scrimped and saved and dreamed, find a way to do it as right as possible. On rare occasions, you’ll arrive to find that conditions are terrible and you would’ve been better off coming for two shorter stints rather than one long one, but I’ll take my chances on a longer trip every time.