Winter arrived a little late here on the Little Red. Valentine’s weekend brought more ice and cold weather than flowers and candy. Over the past few weeks there have been more geese on the river than boats. As far as I can tell, geese don’t provide near the fishing pressure that people in boats casting a Trout Magnet or fly do. So by the time Ol’ Man Winter decides to release its grip and the warmer weather of spring arrives, the fish should be hungry, less pressured and ready to be sore lipped.

In some ways I welcome the winter break, but there is always maintenance work and preparation to be done as a guide.

One area I focus on is rod and reel maintenance. I normally re-spool my Trout Magnet reels every couple of months during spring and summer, but with winter maintenance I take a little more time to give them a good cleaning, oil them, make sure all screws are snug, and then put fresh 2lb SOS line on. Fresh line eliminates “line memory” (where the line holds the shape of the spool) and eliminates kinked or stretched line that has been used and abused during the busy fishing season. I will clean and oil fly reels and clean the sticky residue (that has formed from strike indicators) off the rods. Fly line is examined for nicks, cuts and wear. If needed, it will be replaced with new RIO line. If line replacement is not necessary, it is cleaned and conditioned. New knotless tapered leaders are placed on the fly lines. On a “warmer winter day” new grease is added to the boat motor jet unit, the oil is checked, the fuel injectors are cleaned out and fresh gas is put in the tank. The inside of the boat gets a scrubbing with bleach to get rid of all the fish smell, stains and mildew from being covered during the winter months. But until those warmer days, I will spend hours sitting by the fire at the fly tying vice stockpiling some of my favorite Little Red flies. It’s a good time to do it now, instead of the night before (or the morning of) a big fly fishing trip. This is also a time when I get to fish. Because of the slower guiding schedule, I have more opportunities to spend some personal time on the water. Being on the water allows me to tryout a new fly, product or technique.

So, I welcome the break, or at least the slower pace, but there is much to do ….

Looking forward to spring and spending time on the water with all of you.