1. Take Someone Fishing
You’re probably already thinking about three days of hardcore fishing during the upcoming long weekend, but allow me to throw a small wrench into the works. Consider using one of those days to introduce a non-fisherman to our sport. Inviting a novice aboard might crimp your style, sure. But the reward you’ll get by teaching him or her basic angling skills and showing them how exciting and fulfilling time on the water with a rod-and-reel in hand can be will far outweigh and outlive the pleasure you’d get from 8 more hours of fishing on your own.
Remember, "non-angler" doesn’t always mean someone under the age of 10. Look around for an adult neighbor, co-worker or acquaintance who hasn’t yet had the opportunity to go fishing. You may just end up with another regular fishing partner.
2. Break New Ground
Around noon on Friday your local highways will begin to fill with cars, pickups and campers aimed at popular recreational destinations. It’s an expected and manageable situation, but if you want to avoid the rush and perhaps start your long weekend a lot sooner than the Labor Day nomads will, consider targeting small local waters.
My brother and I, along with our sons, have spent a number of Labor Day weekends wade fishing the river that encircles the small town where we grew up. Smallmouths, walleyes and northern pike have more than quenched our thirst for catching fish, and none of us had to fight traffic for hours to do it.
During a recent Labor Day weekend my son, Gus, caught this respectable pike on light tackle while wading a river barely 25 yards wide.
Chances are you have a lake map app on your smartphone, and that might be all you need to pinpoint potential small-water hotspots you can fish on foot, or from a canoe or kayak. Otherwise, a couple hours on the Internet, or a visit to the local bait shop, will almost certainly produce a number of options.
3. Go Tent Camping
Dig out the tent and shake out the sleeping bags, or borrow them from a neighbor, and plan an impromptu camping adventure. Besides sleeping gear and fishing tackle, you can make do with the bare essentials—lantern, frying pan, cook pot, paper plates and a cooler full of food—and do your cooking over an open fire.
You still have time to plan an impromptu camping trip at overlooked or private campgrounds. It’s a family-friendly and inexpensive adventure.
By now all the major-league parks are probably booked. If you find that to be true, check out county and private campgrounds. It’s a perfect family getaway that youngsters enjoy, and the weekend won’t break the bank. Plus, many campgrounds are situated near a lake or river, so fishing is a natural part of the package.
4. Upgrade Your Outdoor Grub
Whether you spend the weekend at home or at the cabin; all alone or with family and friends, a charcoal grill is most likely part of the picture. Instead of the usual burgers and dogs, however, here’s a simple and delicious way to spruce up your outdoor cooking.
Burgers on the grill are standby weekend fare, but plan at least one knockout meal that’ll astound your family and friends.
Prepared on the grill, Ceasar-Style Steak Sandwiches take about 10 minutes, with ingredients you can pull out of the fridge. It’s a convenient, hands-on meal with a gourmet flavor profile. Save room on the grill for a few hot dogs, though. The kids have to eat, too.