By Dan Johnson

Just in case you have any doubts about summer’s ability to swiftly pass us by, let the recent solstice be a reminder that the clock is ticking, especially for anglers on the northern fringes of Lindy Land.

Yes, it’s still June. But not by much. I remember Memorial Day weekend like it was yesterday and here we are marching toward the Fourth of July. Before your know it, we’ll be focused on the fall harvest and looking ahead to winter.

Thankfully, there are two months worth of summer fishing opportunities ahead of us, and we’re blessed with a multitude of options. Whether you prefer walleyes, panfish, pike—or a mixture of everything—there are places near and far to find a hot bite.

Last week, for example, I visited Minnesota’s Leech Lake and spinner rigged up a number of walleyes from 16 to 27½ inches. Mille Lacs has also been producing ’eyes, along with amazing numbers of smallmouth bass. And let’s not forget Red Lake, Lake of the Woods and countless other honeyholes large and small across the Upper Midwest.

Of course you can’t catch fish unless you go fishing, and sometimes that seems challenging in today’s fast-paced society.

One of the tricks to enjoying more time on the water is having a stash of gear ready to go at a moment’s notice. Keeping things simple is another key, especially for short trips.

I know it’s tempting to overpack, but you don’t need a boatload of tackle on every trip—especially for short outings. Organize the mother lode of gear at home, and then bring just what you need for the day’s adventure.

If you can hit the road in five minutes or less, you’re far more apt to take advantage of short but frequent windows of opportunity. By summer’s end, these quick trips can add up to considerable time on the water, and yield a surprising number of great fishing memories that you’d otherwise miss.