Fishing on the cheap

Is that family vacation to Disney World out of reach this year because of the cost? Good! There is so much right here in Western North Carolina for you and your family to discover.

The price of success: Rick Jenkins believes fishing doesn’t need to cost much. Courtesy Rick Jenkins

Let’s start with fishing. Everybody has a big-fish tale to share. There is no better feeling in the world than having a hook in the water and something tugging on it. Fishing is also the greatest stress reliever in the world. It’s hard to worry about anything when you’re concentrating on the end of your pole and waiting for that next big strike.

But if you’re thinking that even a trip to your local fishing hole costs too much, trust me—I feel your pain. In 2006 all was well in my world. I was fishing and taping one of the top local cable shows in Western North Carolina for Charter Communications. I was sponsored by Ford, Stratos Boats, Triton Boats, Greg Clark’s Countryside Marine, CITGO, and Fish Stalker lures. I fished whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted, and didn’t worry about paying for anything. All good things must come to an end, however, and I decided to give up this glamorous life to spend time with my family and pursue other interests.

Then reality set in. I still wanted to hit all my favorite fishing holes, but nobody was footing the bill. I couldn’t neglect the house payment or car payment just so I could feed my need to fish. What’s a man to do?

It was then that I realized I would have to budget for my trips, make sure I still had a great time, and keep my wife, Tommi, living in the lap of luxury. So by process of elimination I’ve come up with some pretty good ways to accomplish all this and keep everybody happy.

Save your money!

I can hear you screaming already; just give this a try. Get a jar, a jug, a bowl or anything else that will hold coins. Each day when you get home, empty your pockets of loose change and put it in your container. You’ll be shocked at how much you save from month to month.

Make a pact with your wife and loved ones that this money is not to be touched until fishing time. Get the whole family involved. Since January of this year I’ve already saved more than $300 this way. By the time my family and I go to the lake for a week, I’ll have close to $500. But can my family and I actually have a great time on $500? You bet your hind end we can! Give it a try. It works.

Don’t waste gas

Next let’s talk about the vehicle you use to get to your favorite fishing hole. Does it need an oil change? Then get one. Dirty oil robs your motor of power. How about the air filter? Make sure it’s clean. This robs your motor of fresh air, and causes it to burn more fuel. (Shop around before buying your oil and filters. There are price wars going on, and you can acquire your supplies very affordably.)

Make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure. This ensures even tire wear and a smooth-rolling automobile. Now, let me remind you: You’re going fishing, not to church or on a date. So instead of using the air conditioner, roll down your window. Running the AC reduces fuel mileage.

Does your car have cruise control? Use it. Keeping a constant speed maximizes fuel mileage. And last but not least: According to a recent AAA survey, exceeding 60 miles per hour will cost you an additional 25 cents a gallon at the pump. Drive the speed limit—and no quick stops or accelerations. This burns fuel, which is the greatest expense of all.

A few more cost-saving tips: Fish with a friend and split the cost. It makes the fishing more enjoyable and, best of all, more affordable. And when you fish, the most important thing to remember is this: Beer is beer. So drink the cheap stuff. What’s that saying? “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll sit in a boat and drink beer all day.”

As the season rolls on, I’ll prove to you that there’s no need to travel outside our area to experience the greatness of nature. Until next time, get out and enjoy this great state we call home.

[Rick Jenkins lives in Asheville.]

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2 thoughts on “Fishing on the cheap

  1. nuvue

    Good ideas Rick
    Do you know a website for Fontana and other local lake levels? I love fontana but when it is so low it is not near as beautiful….
    Maybe we (they) should go ahead and replant the newer waterline, it seems to be low all the time now.

  2. Rick

    Thanks for the comment.
    Go to for your lake levels. I have a house boat on Fontana and the water level is about 8 feet from being full. Day fishing ain’t much. Topwater early in the morning and late in the afternoon is pretty good. Night time fishing is the best. Use your fishing lights and catch all the walleye and catfish your heart deaires.

    Thanks again.

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