Is Bike Fishing A Thing?
Bike fishing is a real buzzword right now. It seems like the gods of Instagram decided that it should be the next cyclocross or gravel of the biking world. I am doubtful that it will take off in quite the way that some of these other genres have but I think that for those that do become interested (obsessed) with it it can provide hours of fun and frustration.
A little about me (Branton Moore). I fell in love with cycling early. I think I did my first MS 150 ride with my sister when I was 11. Got into mountain biking with my uncle Dennis (Ozark Gangster) in 1992 and spent so many hours on the MTB that I earned the notice of the local bike shop. I got my first job in a bike shop (RIP The Bicycle Outfitter in Harrison) in 1994. It was racing and riding non stop until the birth of my first daughter in 2011. I tried to keep it going at my top level for a while but I kind of gave up when we opened the Rogers location of Highroller Cyclery. I knew I wouldn’t really ever amount to much more then a Category 3 racer anyway. So I stopped focusing on speed and started to get back to what I really loved about cycling in the first place.
Commuting along the back roads and bike-ways of NWA while actually focused on the surroundings clued me in to the fact that we live in a very special place. I started stopping at bridges and looking over the edges just to see the wildlife. Eventually I started pussyfooting down to the waters edge and passing some quiet moments before continuing my rides. Eventually I began to wonder if there were any fish in there. So I borrowed my daughter’s snoopy rod and got down to the business of finding out. To my surprise …there was.
Now lets talk about what bike fishing is. Russ over at the path less pedaled is the first person I ever heard use the term way before I got interested. So I take no credit for actually coming up with this. To the best of my understanding bike fishing is the use of a bicycle to get to and from your fishing spot. While this sounds basic enough transporting the gear that you need to and from a fishing hole can get pretty silly. Bike fishing can be as simple as heading out from work on your lunch break or planning a multi-day trip into the wild.
I have spent the last three years bike fishing the Ozarks and have amassed a fairly good feel for what someone needs to be a successful fisher person in our bike fishing world.
First and foremost don’t expect to catch the crazy lunkers you see people on Instagram catching. Most of those are photo shopped anyway and you are most likely not going to find that type of fish on a bike fishing excursion. The best expectation for a bike fishing excursion is a relaxing time getting closer to the natural world that is literally right below the surface.
Other things you will need to fish:
A rod: This can be anything as simple as a cane pole or as sophisticated as a full western style fly rod and reel. I have tried about every type of rod out there and have eventually settled on Tenkara fishing. I think it is clearly the best and most fun of any of the styles I have tried. (Contact me at Highroller Rogers (479) 254-9800 if you want a lesson or if you want to buy a rod. We sell them there.) The best other option is a collapsible spinning rig. Easily found at any outdoor sporting goods store. What ever you decide on don’t immediately rule out other options. I like having the versatility to change out the style of rod I use depending on where I want to fish. I don’t carry more than one rod anymore, I used to be a real packrat and would have up to 4 rods at one time. But I might change what rod I carry depending on the location I will be riding to.
Lures: Again this is very dependent on where you are fishing and for what. My advice is to limit what you carry to a few styles that you like and focus more on the actual fishing rather than loading your tackle box up with everything under the sun. The biggest consideration I make now days is how environmentally responsible the lures are. I use no plastics and no lead. We can’t enjoy these places in the future if they are full of poison so please be responsible.
A bike: If you are reading this then you probably already have a bike. If not, then I recommend getting a mountain bike or a gravel bike to bike fish with. These offer the most versatility and allow you to access a wide variety of places to fish.
How you choose to carry your gear can be greatly varied. I have found that I tend toward the simplest form of almost all the above. Try a Camelback or other small backpack or fanny pack. A rear rack for your pole or fishing bag also works well. Don’t forget about the good ole basket as well. Its a very under rated tool in transporting bike fishing gear. Good luck trying out bike fishing. Let me know if you need any advice on gear. We will follow up with some more posts on bike fishing soon.