It seems as though the last few winters have been shorter
and milder, but that hasn't changed the fact that anglers are off
the water for extended periods of time. It is easy to lose
touch with your gear through the holidays and the cold season.
Maybe you weren't willing to give up on your fall season, and
thought you had a few more trips left. Maybe you have to pack
the vest and waders into the attic to make room for the skis and
winter clothes. Regardless of the condition in which you left
your gear in the fall, now is the time to get it into working
order. It is mid February, and although it is hard to
believe, we are only a few weeks away from the first major hatches
of the year.
I have been guiding now for over ten years, and know the
importance of organization and preparedness, for successful
fishing. Here are a few things on my checklist that may help
you be ready to hit the water even earlier this year.
Let's start with waders, because it is still cold out
there, and we don't want to start the season with hypothermia.
A great way to check for leaks in your waders, besides
getting wet, is to go into a completely dark room and work a
flashlight all through your waders. If light makes it through
so will water. Then it will be time to break out the aqua
Next let's check our rods. Rods are fairly
maintenance free. Once a year I will apply ferrel wax to all
of the male ferrules. This will allow you to put the rod
together and take them apart easier, and reduce
Reels are fairly maintenance free as well. Remove
your spool and clean out any sand or dirt, and then lubricate your
reel if needed. Most reels benefit from lubricating at least
once a year depending on usage.
Fly line is probably the most neglected piece of
equipment. There are many great products from Rio as well as
Loon that will help you clean, and slicken your line. A clean
slick line can completely change your cast. It is also
important to recognize when your line is dead. Some anglers just
don't know when to say goodbye, but these lines do have a shelf
Now it's time to dive into the vest. Leaders and
tippets sometimes have expiration dates, but if they don't do some
inspecting. If they are frayed, turned yellow, are cracked,
or can be broken by hand much easier than they should, then dump
them. Guide pet peeve number one is losing the biggest fish
of your life over shoddy tippet.
Guide pet peeve number two is losing the biggest fish of
your life over dull hooks. Inspect your flies. Ditch
rusty, unravelling, or chewed up flies. Grab your hook hone
and go to work on those dull hooks. There are still a number
of great tying days left so make a list of what your box is missing
and get to work.
Some of the must haves in my vest are floatant, desiccant, split
shot, and strike indicators. Checking these now, and not
after you have driven two hours, and hiked in an hour is a pretty
simple idea. However we all get excited enough to fly to the
stream on that first 75 degree day without thinking.
One last thing, don't forget to pay the man. Fishing
licenses in Virginia are good for one year from the date of
purchase. That means everyone has a different date to
remember. There are trout stamps, national forest stamps, and other
add ons that you may need, like your Mossy Creek permit.
Head to the stream organized, safe, dry, and legal in
2013, and I hope to see you out there.