Last summer, on a puny budget of $150 bucks, I took two related excursions with three days of fishing and camping each in Kansas and neighboring Missouri. The boost for my morale was priceless.
I'm notorious for my ability to "make do," scrounge, and do things cheaply.
I have some help because of quirks of living as I do in a monastery: When you check out a car, it's already gassed. That helps with fuel. Use gasbuddy.com, and you can calculate the exact places to fill up your tank most cheaply AND, be sure it's at a quarter of a tank when you turn the key back in. Let the shop mechanic fill it up for the next guy.
Also, there's always leftovers at meal times so those can be frozen and then you have several meals already cooked and ready to go. Monasteries also have pantries, and you can load up on dry goods. I had a bit too much food, all said and done, and it didn't cost me a dime.
One lake I stayed at offered free camping, the other place only charges $5.00 a night for tent camping per person. That cuts way camp fees down. I timed the swing into Missouri to correspond with their free fishing weekend to cut down on license fees. I also gathered my own firewood, so no expense there.
I was well under that $150 budget and with what was left was able to buy a new reel and some used camp gear at a flea market place on the way home.
Well, here in North GA, there is a lot of fishable water. Everything from small creeks to mid sized rivers, and deep lakes. I can target several species of fish on any given day. I've even had a day where we caught more than 50 striper and shot 2 turkeys between three of us - by noon. So to travel more than a couple of hours to fish, I'm usually leaving to visit someone or go on vacation. I'm fortunate in that I have friends in the mountains in NC and TN, and one with a beach front condo in FL. This keeps the cost down for most of my fishing. I normally don't spend more than $100 to go fishing, and that's just because I drink craft beer and have no self control at fly shops. I do go with a guide once a year out of FL, sometimes inshore fly fishing, sometimes deep sea. It costs about $1000 a day, but my lodging is free. So really my biggest investment is in maintaining friendships, which grows increasingly difficult as the years go by.
I've yet to take one of those epic fly fishing trips to a remote destination, but perhaps over the next few years I'll get to go to the Christmas Islands, or Lake Jurassic or Panama or any of the others.
I've had great trips that required airline flights, expensive lodges, guides, etc. And I've had trips just as great that required a day of driving and three or four nights of cheap motels. And then there are the more local trips that are sometimes just as great.
Last summer, for the second summer in a row, I did an overnight solo float trip on a certain Missouri smallmouth river. Let's see...about 120 miles of driving carrying the canoe, so figure about 7 gallons of gas at $2.50 a gallon--$17.50. About $20 worth of groceries. $50 for the shuttle, so that was the most expensive part of the trip. Can't think of any other expense. Two days of floating and catching really nice smallmouth, no other anglers, almost zero other people, period. Great scenery, nice weather, lots of wildlife. Just about priceless!
A great fishing trip for me is simply getting outside and becoming one with the river and it's surroundings.
I don't often travel far as I have bass and pike fishing quite literally in my backyard, steelhead are a 5 min drive away, brookies/browns/rainbows all within 10 mins. Musky fishing is now only 5 mins away as well so I'm hoping to get out more for them this summer.
OTOH I have done some pricey destination trips that have brought great memories and I wouldn't trade them for anything.
By nature, I'm a price sensitive guy. That attribute can be both a blessing & a curse.
Here's 1 example of how I thought out of the box(for me anyway). I wanted to take a trip to Yellowstone National Park. I have an RV. But campgrounds around there fill up quickly and tend to be on the pricey side.
So what I did was take a job with 1 of the park's concessionaires. They hire over 3,000 seasonal employees. Nobody commutes to work in YNP. They put up most people in dorm like living arrangements. People like me with an RV get a spot in a campground. Truth be told, I didn't want the job but saw it as a means to accomplish my goal of visiting YNP with a minimal of cash outlay.
In the end I took a job for 3 months working in the employee dining room. As part of your employment agreement you get 3 meals a day. The food is varied and it's as much as you can eat at every meal. The 1 rule is you can't take any food out of the dining room. Drinks are available all day long and you can take them out as long as your container has a cover. Of course everyone had a covered drinking cup.
I fished 24 times and caught 89 fish in 90 days. Some nights it was just casting lures from the shore after work. I did hike back a few times with my waders. Other times I fished out of a 10 foot boat. All but 2 times I fished by myself.
Lewis Lake opened for fishing before Yellowstone lake. Once Yellowstone lake opened for fishing I didn't go back to Lewis lake. I fished Grebe lake, Snake river, and another lake that name escapes me.
I did start out catching lake trout and browns during a late May blizzard. I didn't get any cutthroat until I fished Yellowstone lake. But those fish were in the 3-5 pound range, so the lack of numbers of fish was made up by the size of the fish. I also caught a few grayling. Most of the fish were good size bruisers that would have made any angler happy.
It cost me gas from Florida to Wyoming. I got paid while I was there and my food and campground was included. The job severely cut into my fishing time but I was happy with the number of times I got out on the water. I had a few skunks but that goes with the territory.
In between wetting a line I got to see some awesome sights. After a while spotting an elk or a bison wasn't a big deal. YNP is a spectacular national treasure. I'm glad that some far thinking people thought to preserve the park for future generations.
If the chance arises again, I'd do it all over again.
Begins and ends with seclusion for me. Numbers and size down the list compared to getting away from people and civilization. So......start with Google earth and end at some unimproved camp site "near" me. I probably drive a little more than most that, like me, have great trout fishing in their own back yard, but its worth the effort. Tie what I need, have every rod I well ever need, Yeti cooler holds the rest. Buddy and me with no other in sight, great fishing, cocktails at sunset, repeat. Harder to find but I still can find a few spots.
To me, a great fishing trip is the culmination of days or hours of planning with someone you enjoy spending time with. It can be a pond down the street, a river a couple hours away, or a country on the other side of the world. It's the anticipation of casting to the water that you have seen in your dreams for months. It never lasts long enough but it's great while you're there.
My buddy and I have been doing a week long trip to the Big Hole river each fall for several years. We stay in a motel that has a kitchenette and do our own cooking. We fly to Bozeman, rent a car, and shop for groceries at a super Walmart on the way to the Motel. The first couple years we bought a crock-pot for about $35.00 and just left it behind, but now all three kitchenette rooms have the crock-pots that we bought . We design a menu for the entire week (8 nights, 7 days) and only have to return to the store to buy more beer. We always start the day with a big breakfast and pack sandwiches and snacks for while we're on the river. After breakfast, we decide what we're going to have for dinner, throw that in the crock-pot, and dinner is ready when we return 8 or 10 hours later.
We do DIY wade trips so no need for a guide. I book all of the reservations and make an expense sheet each year so we know what was spent so we can plan the next years trip. Aside from personal needs and purchases, here is a clip from our 2017 trip;
Fishing License $56.14 ea
Groceries $198.51 ea
Fuel $24 ea
Flight and Rental Car $669 ea
Total $1285.17 ea
Looking forward to this year, we leave in 16 days!!!!!!!!!!!