Right about now, northern anglers like myself are scrambling. We're digging through bins in the basement, shed and garage. We're flipping through catalogues and browsing websites. We're trying to ensure that, when the time comes, we'll be ready for those first glorious days on the water.
Once that problem is solved, all that remains is a mental check list of essential gear — the stuff we take for granted.
The other day, I inspected my neoprene waders and boots — I'll be using them most in the cold waters of spring. I checked for obvious tears and holes but also made sure that they're not too snug after my long winter of relative inactivity. I'm glad to report that they're OK and I still fit in them.
Next, I gathered my under layers. These are the thin insulating long johns and undershirts that are going to help me stay warm but not too bulky.
I then pulled out a hat, in the early season it's actually an insulated watch cap; later on I'll use a wide brimmed fedora. Then I made sure my polarized glasses were in good shape. These are what protect your eyes from hooks, reflected sunlight and branches along the water's edge. And they make sight fishing or following a fly easier.
Like most anglers, I have collected a few fishing vests over the years. But I chose to initially use a full-sized vest since I don't wade too deep in the early season when the flow is a little more robust. Later, when the flow slows down a bit, I might stock a shorty vest which rides higher so you can wade deeper.
I loaded those vest pockets with fly boxes, polarized glasses, a spare reel cartridge, forceps, multi-tool, floatant, strike indicators, extra leaders and tippet material, split shot, a pocket point-and-shoot camera and my Carson Clip n' Flip magnifying lenses, as well as a threader. Later, I'll throw in a granola bar or two. Beside my vest is a net and wading staff.
This little exercise is helpful in many ways. First it gives you an indication as to what you need to upgrade or order. Next, it gives you the feeling that spring is just about here.
I'm now ready. Bring on the good weather.