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Ontario Fishing Network
Volume 5,  Issue 5 -  May 2005

Set Some Goals This Season
Tim Allard

"Setting goals, what does this have to do with fishing?" The answer: more than one might initially appreciate. Goals are milestones we seek to achieve and by setting goals and having a plan to reach them, success and getting better go hand-in-hand. Always wanted to fish a tournament, catch a muskie or learn to fly fish? Well, it's time to make these things happen.

What's a Goal?
The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines goal as "An aim or desired result - the designation of a journey." Personal goals should be clearly defined, achievable, and able to be measured. Goal-related measures are things like time and duration. For example, I will be able to properly flip four of every five docks I fish in two years time. Or, I will learn to launch my boat properly this year, never spending more than five minutes on the main launch (sorry, couldn't resist).

The length of time associated with each goal will vary. Several short-term goals may lead to a larger long-term goal. Setting goals is happening all the time in high schools, governments, art houses and fitness centres, but let's specifically talk fishing here.

Focusing on Goals
Have you always wanted to do something fishing-related but never got the chance? Setting goals will help you achieve these aspirations. What's key to setting goals is that they are realistic an achievable. If you want to fish your first bass tournament, pick a local tourney and not a provincial-wide one. Of course, the latter is achievable and you might want to make it a long-term goal for a few seasons from now.

Here's a goal related fact: goals written down are more likely to be achieved than ones that are not. Plain and simple. So whatever you fishing ambitions are, write them down and reflect on them often. Don't be afraid to write your goals down in places so you'll be reminded of what you want to achieve. Tape them to your garage door or by all your fishing gear so that you review before you hit the water.

Planning: The Meat and Potatoes of Meeting Goals
The basic fact is that if you want to become a better angler, you need to work on your weaknesses and make your strengths even stronger. Setting goals will focus your effort on specific things, but planning how you'll achieve your goals will really make you successful. Plans don't need to be complex things they can include the number of hours you ant to practice a week or a series of short-term achievements leading up to a big, long-term accomplishment.
The point is, to reach your goals you need to spend some time planning the steps you'll take to be successful. Once you achieve a few goals, you'll get energized about your accomplishments, resulting in the setting of more goals and further development. Need some suggestions for fishing-related goals? Consider these categories:

Lures, Tackle and Presentations:
Choose a few lures or fishing techniques you want to improve on this season and set some goals. To become better with a jig-and-pig a friend of mine would fish a certain percentage of his non-tournament time exclusively with this bait. He'd leave all his other rods and tackle at home, taking only two flipping sticks and a few jigs for the entire day. It may sound extreme, but he improved his confidence in the bait and increased his success in tournaments.
Maybe you want to learn to tie five of your favourite flies, improve your figure-8 technique, or become better at bottom bouncing - whatever your aspirations consider setting some goals to improve your knowledge and skills with lures. It'll pay off with more catches and confidence.

Flipping requires confidence and accuracy; improvement is as simple as setting a goal and working to achieve it.

The Means to the End
Sport fishing media regularly focuses on lures and tackle to catch fish, spending less time on secondary and supportive things. Boat control is one area we all can take time to get better at, whether fishing in the wind, using our trolling motor better, or improving back trolling. Improving your use of hydrographic maps, GPS or your fish finder can be other areas you seek to improve upon. Maybe you take a course in GPS for example, or arrange a day to fish with someone who's really skilled at boat control and get them to teach you some maneuvering tips. Then practice their teachings on your next outings.

Conserving the Fishery
Every year hundreds of volunteers take action to preserve our fisheries. An excellent goal this year for any angler to consider is how you can help sustain our fisheries. Maybe you want to take a kid fishing twice this year, contribute 20 hours of your time to habitat restoration or shoreline clean-up, or organize a catch-and-release refresher for your local fishing club. These are just a few suggestions and if you put your thinking cap on, you'll come up with a lot more.

Setting goals can have a bad rap. Failed New Year's resolutions and diets are probably two of the big culprits, but goal-setting is a powerful tool to improve your fishing. Before the season starts, set a few fishing-related goals. If you follow your plan, it's only a matter of time before you reach your goals. Good luck and good fishing!

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