It seems like trout season will never come when the temperatures hover in the single digits, frigid snow storms beat upon you and the heating bills go off the chart, but suddenly the time has flown by and the first day will be upon us shortly.
Don’t wait until the last second, there’s still a week and half to go, but you’ll probably need a checklist to make sure you have everything ready in time anyway. After all, rushing about in a panic doesn’t lead to preparedness.
First, can you find your fishing rod? Is it in the garage hung up for all to see or buried in a corner behind the extra 2-by-4s from last summer’s project? Perhaps it is in the back room somewhere or even in the attic. Good Lord, did I leave it in the boat all winter?
Once you have found your rod and determined it is in working order, the tip still on with the ceramic insert in place, you need to check out your reel. Make sure the handle isn’t bent, the gears oiled and free and possibly most important, you have some new line ready to replace last year’s with. Light line, 4-6 pounds, loses its transparency, strength and becomes twisted and nicked with use. Having once lost a big trout using old line, I always replace the last year’s before venturing forth on the stream.
The next major item to check out is your hip boots or chest waders. Nothing quite matches the startling realization that ice cold water is seeping into your boots because of dry rot or an unknown hole. The first day has the coldest water temperatures of the year and standing in the creek with frozen feet is no fun, so check out the boots thoroughly; it makes for a much more pleasant day.
Your next critical check is the good old fishing vest. Where did you hang that silly thing? Once found, a prudent angler will wisely give it a sniff test; little, tiny sniffs in case you forgot about last year’s worms, salted minnows or have a leaky jar of salmon eggs. If an unpleasant aroma assails your delicate nostrils, it may be wise to don a pair of latex gloves before removing the stinky culprits. You may also find some old candy bars, cough drops or chewing gum in various states of decay. Remove them and be careful your wife doesn’t get a nose full. She will
most likely have some things to say to you if she does and they may not be flattering at all.
If your vest still has a smell after removing anything odiferous, just hang it outside a while; don’t wash it, you may remove all the luck. That also saves you having to empty the countless pockets most vests have.
Make sure your hooks are not rusty, you have enough of various sizes, split shot, lures, flies, a hook sharpener, and especially a pair of forceps for removing hooks from the fish’s mouth. Forceps are especially handy in this department and save having those very sharp little teeth shredding the back of your fingers as you attempt to remove a hook from deep in the trout’s gullet. Don’t forget your fillet knife and a camera for pictures. Also, sunglasses are a must. Not for the weather, silly; the sun never seems to shine around here, but for seeing in the water.
Thinking positive is always a good thing, so bring a small to medium ice chest for your fish, ice, of course, and maybe your lunch and a drink or two. A net comes in handy and saves wading to the bank if you’re standing in deeper water or fighting a bragging sized trout.
Wear a hat, of course, for several reasons. Hats keep your head warm and/or dry. As important or perhaps even more so the brim shades your eyes making it easier to see into the water helping you locate fish, snags or better holding areas in the stream and saves squinting if it’s bright outside. If it’s your “lucky hat,” forgetting it could have dire consequences, you never know.
If you are a bait fisherman, don’t forget night crawlers, salmon eggs, maggots, wax worms and minnows, live or salted. It is amazing just how fussy trout can be, especially after the first hour. According to the weather forecast, a raincoat might be wise also.
That should just about do it. Hopefully you will bring along a healthy portion of luck as well. Good fishing and all the best.