Just two short weeks ago, I filled this space with a proclamation that fishing season is never over, no matter how cold or nasty the weather gets.
I stand by those comments, but today I’d like to write about some wintertime alternatives. Don’t get me wrong — fishing still beats not fishing any day of the week. But it’s good to have a backup plan. My trips have been torpedoed on back-to-back weekends thanks to classic Idaho winter shenanigans.
Two weekends ago, I ventured north to the Payette River on a trout expedition. Unfortunately, much of the river was frozen and the remaining flow was clogged with floating ice and slush.
With those memories fresh in my mind, I planned to head to Cascade for some ice fishing the following Saturday. Ironically, temperatures warmed considerably, and I’m not one to risk life and limb on sketchy ice, no matter how fat those perch are.
And so here we find ourselves. Cranky, cooped up and hankering for a fishing fix. But don’t despair. When weird weather, company parties and other holiday commitments keep you off the water, here are some alternate ways to scratch your fishing itch.
Organize your tackle: That sound you hear is all the diehard anglers nodding in unison. Is sorting through your tackle boxes juvenile? Maybe. Desperate? Probably. Awesome? Definitely!. In all seriousness, it is good to sort through your gear once or twice per year to take inventory, throw away the chewed up plastics and rusted hooks and put everything in perfect order. You know, so you can turn it into a jumbled, tangled mess again on your first big fishing trip next spring.
Give your gear a tune-up: During the warm months, fishing can be so fast and furious that we neglect to take care of our equipment. Winter provides the perfect excuse to spend some quality garage time with your rods and reels. Look over each of your poles for cracks, bent eyelets and other damage. Clean, oil and re-spool your reels. Check your waders and float tubes for leaks. And generally do all the things you never have time for once those bass wake up from their long winter nap.
Plan your trips: If you can’t actually fish, thinking about next year’s excursions is a pretty good substitute. In addition to your usual honey holes, try adding some new destinations to the list. C. Ben Ross Reservoir (largemouth bass), Winchester Lake (panfish), Salmon Falls Reservoir (walleye) and any of Idaho’s countless alpine lakes (trout) are some fun places to try within a half-day’s drive. Set some goals and plan ahead for your 2016 adventures.
When the wintertime blues get in the way of your fishing trips, try getting a quick fix at a local pond or the Boise River. Or, try some of the above alternatives so you’re ready to rock and roll when your next opportunity knocks.