FISHING ON A BUDGET — HOW TO MAKE IT WORK
If you’re looking to plan a fishing adventure in the near future, then your options – both saltwater and fresh – are seemingly endless. There are plenty of destinations to choose from when it comes to high-end, all-inclusive packages that offer the best of everything for the top dollar. For those on a budget and those looking to do a bit more on their own and save a few bucks, there are indeed some sure-fire ways to stretch your dollars and still enjoy great fishing opportunities. Here are a few thoughts on making the most of a budget-focused trip:
1. Do your homework
There are some great places for low-budget and do-it-yourself (DIY) fishing opportunities, just as there are places where fishing on your own or on the cheap is downright tough and unrealistic. Totally possible in the Bahamas, Belize, and the Yucatan. Not so much in the Seychelles, however.
If sticking to a budget or the ability to fish on your own is the goal, research the options, read online articles and blogs, scout around on Google Earth, and prep as much as you can BEFORE arriving at your destination. The Yellow Dog program directors here in the office can also help you identify some great options that will help you make the right choice and stay within your budget. And while the cheapest is always a DIY trip, there are some great lodge packages and options we can book at a very reasonable cost.
+ Use our "Plan Your Trip" filter to look at inexpensive lodges where you can still be guided!
2. Arrive with the right gear
Of course, this seems obvious, but when it comes to low-budget trips or DIY trips, having the right gear is crucial. If you are fishing with a high-end lodge or a well-known, professional guide, then chances are good there will be some equipment available if needed (flies, a back-up rod if your rod breaks, extra spools of tippet, extra fly lines, etc.).
If you are fishing on your own or with a budget guide or lodge, the likelihood of finding the right gear and flies when you get there is significantly lower. Bring everything you might need with you. Chances are good you are going to need it!
3. Take advantage of low-season deals and specials
Several destinations and lodge locations offer steep discounts during the “off-season,” and taking advantage of these offers can save anywhere from 30%-50% on all-inclusive fishing packages. For example, summer and fall specials are typically found in the Caribbean from July through early December.
The fishing during the late summer and fall months can be great, and these trips are only “discounted” because few gringos want to head south when the weather is so nice in the north country. The tarpon fishing and permit fishing can be fantastic, there are almost always fewer anglers on the flats, and the weather conditions can be absolutely perfect for fly fishing. If you’re looking for a legitimate, all-inclusive lodge and fishing package but are working on a budget, then definitely check out the off-season deals.
4. Consider joining a hosted trip
One of the biggest challenges for fishing on a budget relates to single anglers. If you want to book a trip but avoid the normally large single-supplement fee (where you have your own boat and your own room) then you can either work harder at making friends who fish, or you can join a hosted group trip. We offer a great selection of hosted trips depending on where you want to travel. This is a great way to avoid a single supplement charge, enjoy the company of a group, and possibly even save more money if the group leader or host has negotiated a special rate.
5. Embrace the last-minute opportunities
If you are someone that can drop what you’re doing and head out on a fishing trip at a moment’s notice, then this is a technique that can definitely save you a boat-load of cash. Often times Yellow Dog and lodges receive last-minute cancellations for a variety of reasons. Usually – if it is truly last-minute – deposits or payments are already locked in and cannot be refunded. When this happens, the agents or lodges can “re-sell” or complete the trip booking for a fraction of the normal cost.
The trade-off is that this usually happens pretty quickly, so you need to have your passport up to date and your gear ready at a moment’s notice. At Yellow Dog, we keep a list of “last-minute candidates” that we contact when these situations arise. In the last couple of months alone we’ve been able to numerous people booked for significantly reduced package prices because they were able to fill in for a cancellation at the last moment.
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Remember that in the end, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” can easily apply to fishing trips as well. Young dirt-bag guides who can spend a month bumming around The Bahamas and living on summer guide tips will enjoy the adventure of exploring. However, if you only have five vacation days a year to focus on fishing, spend the money for a great guide or a legitimate lodge package that will be able to deliver some solid fishing action and a great overall experience.
If you have never before fished for bonefish and opt for a dirt-cheap, DIY bonefishing trip, then chances are good that you will struggle and end up frustrated. If, on the other hand, you have bonefished for years and know what you’re doing, then a DIY trip may be a great fit. If your time is valuable, then make the most of it and do it right. If you’re heavy on time and low on funds, however, take a chance, book something cheap, and roll with whatever the adventure brings!