With the change of the season, winter is finally upon us. Barren trees, crisp air, a brand new dusting of snow and I am exhilarated, anticipating and planning my next trip with my fishing partner for winter steelhead.
Planning my trip is half the fun. I take pleasure in knowing I’ll be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at me. I give thanks every morning because of my life. I am a man of many trips, and I enjoy experiencing everything our beautiful outdoors has to offer. Whether you are able to take off on many trips or only once a year, it is important to plan carefully as this is a special time that can rejuvenate your batteries.
One of the most important things for your successful trip is a list. Just like Santa, check it twice. One of the fun parts of planning a trip is playing out the trip in your head. Depending on the season, you will be planning which flies, lures or bait will be most successful. Ideally, bring three of each presentation. This is the most common mistake I see—people only packing one of each presentation, and they lose it. Try not to be this person.
Depending on where I go, I’ll have anywhere from two to six rod and reel combos with me. For my trip up north, I bring four rods. Two are always on my boat, one being a dry line and the other a sink tip. The spare will come in handy if we have a problem, such as a broken rod. Now is the time to replace old lines, tapered leaders or cracked fly lines. Make sure your casting or spinning reel line is in good shape. Replace these if they have excessive memory, abrasion marks, or, if your reel is just low in capacity. People not maintaining their equipment is the most overlooked practice. Something as simple as a touch of oil to the bearings, bushings and moving parts can make your trip run more smoothly.
Every year I travel abroad to a little destination in the tropics. This place is God’s land and resembles Gilligan’s Island. I chase bonefish and tarpon on the flats all day, but on a particular day of fishing, I was unprepared for the rain. A simple shell jacket was all that I needed for the day. Even though I was in the tropics, the cold was unbearable as I travelled across the bay, making my trip uncomfortable. Learn from my mistake. Always be prepared. Clothing is essential. Start from the top and work your way down.
A hat is key in cold and hot weather. It keeps in the heat and protects from the suns harmful rays. A good quality pair of polarized sunglasses helps with locating fish. Choose the appropriate shade such as amber for low light and a smoked tint for sunny days. Gloves help our hands in the cold, but also protect our skin from the sun. Anglers are among those who are at most risk for skin cancer, so using sunscreen is absolutely important, even on cloudy days. My favourite clothing to wear is microfleece in cold or hot weather. This material breathes, eliminates sweat and wicks it away from our skin, keeping us comfortable in all temperatures. One of the most important pieces of clothing are socks. My socks have the same quality as my fleece, taking the moisture away from my skin. They also have arch support built in, which allows me to walk all day and stay comfortable. Never double up your socks. This traps in sweat and makes a tighter fit in your footwear, which causes you to lose circulation and your feet to get cold.
Having fun and enjoying our experience can be helped with a proper list and being prepared. When you are in the great outdoors, something as simple as proper snacks for refuelling and clean water goes farther than just food. It brings a certain civilization when you’re in the middle of nowhere. I personally enjoy hiking, so I need snacks that are lightweight and high in fuel. The body burns fat first. Try bringing a bag of pork rinds. The energy delivered is quick. I also carry granola bars with fruits, nuts and peanut butter. I’m not looking to burn out, but keep my fuel levels running long.
In short, be prepared for everything, keeping in mind that being comfortable and well-fed will make your trip more enjoyable.