Some men like a’fishin’, and some men like a’fowlin’, and many enjoy both. When it comes to booking a hunting trip, the question “perhaps I can fish there, too?” naturally arises. Since we’ve launched our sister website, BaitYourHook.com, we have been interested in this topic, too. So, we asked some of the outfitters who offer the best of both worlds on BookYourhHunt.com for their opinions and tips on how to combine fishing and hunting in one journey.
Is it a good idea to combine a hunting trip with a fishing trip?
Short answer: it depends. The first variable is the kind of a hunt. “Depending on the unit and time of year you drew an elk hunt more than likely we will be chasing bugles in the morning, sitting water midday and out locating in the evenings, so there is little down time to go fishing” – says John Stallone of Days in the Wild Outfitters, “but if we’re doing a predator hunt, we might actually encourage you to bring either a fishing pole or shotgun to fish or go shoot quail midday”.
It also depends on the country. For example, the Canadian guides we surveyed have been invariably enthusiastic: “Fishing is a great way to pass a slow or warm afternoon with unfavorable weather conditions or wind.” – says Dylan Belliveau, Bowen Lake Outfitters – “I would highly recommend all my hunters bring along some fishing gear. We have northern pike and walleye in our lakes, and our combos are fantastic.” In other areas, though, things may be more complicated. “We are in one of the best hunting areas in Greenland” – says Erik Lomholt-Bek, Trophy Hunting Greenland – “with lots of old big animals, but to get the really good fishing you need to go to some of the clear water rivers near the coast, and thats 180 km away from here. But near those rivers with the big arctic char there are fewer big caribou and almost no musk-ox.”
A lot of hunting lodges have a stocked pond right on the territory or arrange fishing on adjustment rivers or lakes that are found near the properties. This is done to provide clients with an extra attraction and to give them something to do if they are fortunate to claim a success early into their hunt. “If you harvest your species early you can spend time fishing” – says Josh Black, Big Blue Ranch and Lodge – “When folks rent the lodge, at any time of year they can fish at no extra cost, we have kayaks, jon boats, and a canoe for use.” Such extras can be worth a visit in themselves, like catching the feisty tiger fish on Lake Jozini, according to Lindy of Pongola Bow Safaris.
To sum it up, if you want some fishing along with hunting, that’s possible almost everywhere, but if you want great fishing and great hunting, well, that could take an effort.
Can I fish and hunt on the same day?
Opinions differ on this one. Quite a few guides believe that the two outdoor activities should be kept separate. “I’ve seen it work, but I also am superstitious that it splits a hunter’s attention away from the big game animal” – says Mike of Pismo Adventures, California. Like most guides we surveyed, he recommends to start with hunting and fish after you’ve got your trophies: “the “opportunity” rate for catching a fish is near 90%. For the deer and pig hunts it is not that high yet.” “Each day should be devoted to either hunting or fishing. Not both.” – agrees Tim Linehan of Linehan Outfitting Company, Montana. – “ Go fishing for the day or go hunting for the day. Don’t always try to fit both into one day.”
An alternative vision is voiced by Josh from Big Blue Ranch, Nebraska, who says that most hunters who go after whitetail in their area come back to the lodge at about 11 a.m. for a meal and rest. After a meal, you can fish in the stocked pond on the lodge for crappie, bluegill, bass, catfish, and northern pike. “November deer season offers amazing fishing opportunities as well”. John Frank, Northern Lights Lodge, Manitoba, agrees: “All of our hunters fish. We do not take our bear hunters out to their stands until 5 PM so they have all day to fish. With our moose hunters they have a break of about five hours in the middle of the day so they fish at that time if they so desire. Our lakes have northern pike, lake trout, and walleye.”
And, of course, there’s the MacNab Challenge, where doing it all at the same time is the whole point. Originated from a 1920s novel in Great Britain, it consists of killing a red stag with a rifle, a red grouse with a shotgun, and catching a salmon on a fly, all in a course of one day. Adjusted for local species, an opportunity to complete the challenge is offered by outfitters in many former English colonies, including South Africa (such as Lasarus Game Farm). And if you really want to put the Brits to shame, you can take this challenge to a whole new level with hunting hippo or crocodile, and fishing for the amazing and aptly called tiger fish, in such areas as Lake Kariba or on the Zambezi River. Such trips are provided by a number of outfitters on BookYourHunt.com, including Nyamazana Safaris in Zimbabwe or Limpopo Big Game Safaris.
Cast and Blast tours
“Cast and Blast” tours are the industry lingo for a combination hunting and fishing trip. Apparently, fishing combines with wing shooting better than with big-game hunting. “The perfect hunting and fishing combination trip in my opinion is the traditional cast and blast recipe” says Tim Linehan – “This hunt combines upland hunting for game birds like grouse, pheasant, partridge, etc. and terrific opportunities for trout and salmon species here in the Rocky Mountains. Fall here in Montana is spectacular and the weather is generally very good with crisp mornings and daytime temperatures in the 50-60s”.
However, big-game hunting enthusiasts can also find options. “We offer a predator hunting and bowfishing package that I think is pretty great. Its during the spawning season so the fish are in the shallows an allow us to find them during the day. We often will do predator hunting in the AM and fish for bass in the afternoon as well” says John Stallone.
“A perfect combo trip would be to come and hunt the rut for blacktail deer at the end of September. Hunt for 3 days, kill your buck in the morning, get it skinned butchered and put on ice. Relax with a delicious dinner that night and go to bed early. The next morning get up and be at the water’s edge with your kayak all ready with rods, reels, bait, tackle by around 7:00 am. We fish for rockfish and the occasional lingcod or halibut” – says Mike, Pismo Adventures.
There are locations where you have the ultimate hunting and ultimate fishing experiences in the course of one journey – big-game hunting and saltwater deep-sea fishing after marlin, sailfish, dolphin, and so on. South Africa and New Zealand are two countries that come to mind, but there are other options. It is very seldom, however, that you can do both out of the same camp, and you should think about such adventures as two trips that follow one another, even though you might book it from the same outfitter. “Saltwater fishing trips are usually arranged on special request, and the clients normally add a few days after the hunting trip to go fishing” – says Corne of Theron Africa Safaris
What rods and reels to take for a hunting and fishing combo?
The consensus answer may surprise you: none. Most outfitters we surveyed recommend to leave your rods and reels at home and consider using the equipment provided locally. “Traveling with a fishing rod can be a pain. We usually hire rods out.” – says Niel Uys of Harloo Safaris, South Africa. The additional advantage is that the local equipment would be well adapted to the local conditions, fish species, and successful techniques.
There are, of course, exceptions. In spearfishing, for example, some equipment is personally fitted to the user, and is therefore hard to replace. Some fly-fishing enthusiasts develop personal connection to their rods and would want to use no other. And a number of North American outfitters kind of expect the client to come with their own rig. If you decide to do it, aim for the more universal stuff. Medium power spinning rods with fast action, or the equivalent fly-fishing pole, are usually recommended, but of course you’ve got to do your homework on what would work best for local species and conditions.
Two secrets of a perfect hunting and fishing adventure: Communication…
Wherever and whenever you’re going, if you’re considering fishing on your hunting trip, be sure to ask about it. There is a lot of local knowledge involved in both fishing and hunting, and you should be really ill-advised to act on your assumptions without talking it over with the ultimate provider of the service. The fish and the bird or beast you are after can, for example, be available in the area you’re considering, but in different time frames, or there may be caveats you don’t know about.
In the very least, the outfitter should be aware of your plans so that they can handle the associated red tape. Seriously, we know of a case when a hunter booked a 10-day backcountry fly-in moose hunt, killed his moose on Day 2, and then had to spend the other eight days kicking rocks on a bank of a river swarming with salmon, because the hunter assumed the guide would take care of the fishing license, but the guide assumed if client doesn’t ask for one he doesn’t need one!
… and setting your priorities right
Whether you simply want to diversify your hunting trip by casting a couple of lures into the water, or have two serious and expensive adventures rolled into one, you have a lot of options, but it’s essential to know what you want, and what you prioritize. This includes scheduling your adventure, and it’s not as straightforward as it may sound.
Normally, as Carla of New Zealand Trophy Hunting points out, “there is a bit of pressure felt by hunters on their “success””, so the natural course of event is to secure the trophies first, and then following up with a fishing adventure – “it is a nice “cherry on top” to enjoy some fishing or diving while getting to see our beautiful rivers, lakes, oceans, and fiords”. But some outfitters think that a different sequence might work out better.
“A perfect combo trip would be to fly in to the nearest coastal town and spend 3-4 days offshore fishing, then drive to the hunting concession (this allows you to see the diversity of the south african country side) and hunt 5-7 days, on this you can work in some inland fishing at anytime “ says Jacques Jordaan of Ndloti Safari Adventures, while Niel Uys of Harloo Safaris suggests to break a longer hunting trip in a few parts with a couple of days of fishing: “Maybe 4 days of hunting then a fishing day and then carry on with the hunt again.”
Perhaps the most sensible approach is suggested by Hannes of Mahati Pursuit. He points out – and that was a surprising part for us – that the problem with booking a hunting and fishing combo is that it’s difficult to predict the right conditions when booking a fishing trip in advance. There are more things that could ruin a fishing trip – like a rough sea, or muddy water – than with hunting. “Fishing trips should be booked as close to the start date as possible”, says Hannes. He recommends planning your trip for ten days, and deciding which of them should be dedicated to hunting and which to fishing closer to the arrival.
To sum it up, here are some
Tips for a successful combination of a hunting and fishing trip:
- Communicate with your outfitter and leave no i’s undotted.
- Set your priorities, and decide which of the two you’ll be sacrificing in case of conflict of interest.
- Consider using the fishing equipment provided by the host.
- Plan enough time for both on your trip.
- Ideally, have a surplus of time that you can dedicate to one or the other, according to circumstances.
- If you are after no-compromise great fishing and great hunting, think of it as two separate trips following one another.
Of course, none of the above is set in stone, and at the end of the day it’s up to you and your preferences. You may not feel like fishing at the planning stage of your hunting trip, but there’s no law against making a spontaneous decision if it feels right on the spot. Even if your hunting outfitter doesn’t offer fishing trips, they will probably be able to connect you with a reputable local fishing charter or guide whom they know well and can wholeheartedly recommend. Or, you can book your fishing adventure on BaitYourHook.com