Start planning that dream trip now!

Spring may seem a long way off, but now is the time to start thinking about that trip to waters you’ve dreamed of fishing.

A successful fishing vacation requires a lot of well-planned research; by starting now you’ll have a better chance for that “dream trip” to come off without a hitch.

For example, if you’re planning to hire a guide, remember that the good ones, along with the popular fish camps and lodging around the lakes, book-up early during prime time seasons.

The really popular spring destinations, such as Falcon or Amistad in Texas, Okeechobee or Toho in Florida and Guntersville in Alabama draw anglers from around the world during the peak periods. Several of those anglers make the same trip every year and know when and how to book them.

It’s no different on those northern smallmouth hotspots like St. Clair in Michigan or New York’s Champlain in May and June; doing your homework now will get you ahead of others.

The internet provides an incredible source for much of the information you need. Some guides’ websites offer details about when to go, licensing, lodging, and the kind of fishing you can expect at various times of the year.

And here’s a big tip: Before you pick the week you want to go, examine future moon calendars. If your fantasy is to catch a 10-pounder on a bed, plan your trip around the full moon when spawning activity picks up. On the other hand, if you hate bed fishing, avoid those periods and look for the dark moon periods in the prespawn when the fish are more active.

And on northern waters, remember that some states have closed bass seasons, so you want to be there at the right time.

Don’t forget tackle needs, either. Northern anglers heading to the giant bass lakes probably don’t have the larger baits and colors that yield better results. You may also have to beef up your rods and line, too.

Conversely, a southern angler going north may not have the natural-colored tubes or chartreuse spinnerbaits that work well on spring smallies because those aren’t baits they use in their local waters. (And don’t forget northern lakes have pike and other toothy critters that will bite off a lot of baits. Pack extras!)

It’s also a good time to start buying tackle so that you’re getting a little at a time and not breaking the family bank all at once. And remember: A lot of major tackle outlets offer Black Friday specials next week and through the Christmas season.

Equally important is your boat and trailer. In my younger days, a group of us made a trip south every year and prepped our boats before we put them in winter storage to make sure everything was in tip-top shape before we made the long haul on a destination trip the following spring.

When you’re planning this trip, consider weather changes and clothing needs. Don’t assume it’s going to always be warm at your spring destination. Cold spells blow through the south in early spring and in Michigan during May.

So, what are you waiting for? Talk to your buddies, pick a location, do your research and book that trip.

There’s a lot of bass waiting for you to hook ‘em next spring, and remember, it’s all about the attitude!