Spring is here; throw another log on the fire

Michael Condon
3/22/2011 -

Finally the calendar tells us that spring has arrived. That is a good thing. Spring means the return of fishing season. But as I look out my window I can’t help but think the calendar just doesn’t have a clue.

The wet and stormy weather says “throw another log on the fire.”

Truth in advertising requires that I state up front that this report is not about my most recent fishing adventure. It is more about fishing adventures that I hope are just around the proverbial corner.

There was a time when I didn’t worry about the weather. What is a little rain or snow to a real outdoorsman? That was when I was in my 20s. Now 60 is just around the corner and the concept of “warm and dry” has more significance for me than it once did.

Excuse me for a minute while I throw another log on the fire.

Despite the crazy winter weather we have experienced, the fishing has actually been pretty good these past few months. The fall bite was hot. Whether ice fishing at Davis or Frenchman, or trolling and bank fishing for trout at Almanor, winter fishing provided a much-needed reprieve for those of us suffering from the shack nasties.

But spring means the beginning of a new fishing season. Stream fishing will open soon. Our beautiful high-elevation lakes will again be accessible. Water temperatures will rise and, with the warmer water, the fish will feed more actively. I am ready for that new season.

Spring arguably offers the best fishing of the year. Part of it is just that we anglers are anxious to get out and begin another year of fishing after a long winter. And part of it is that the fish are at their hungriest after a long winter. Bring it on. I am ready.

But then I look out the window. I think I’ll throw another log on the fire.

Stormy weather doesn’t need to keep us entirely from our favorite pastime. There is much to be done even when we can’t (or choose not to) be on the water.

I have tied some flies this winter. But not enough. Maybe I will tie some more during the next couple of days.

I have gone through my gear and “taken inventory.” I made the annual pilgrimage to the tackle shop to stock up on fishing gear for the new fishing year.

I still need to organize my gear better.

Like most anglers, I have too much gear. I can’t take it all with me each time I go fishing. It is essential to organize it so that I can quickly grab the right gear. Just enough of what I will need for a particular fishing situation without feeling like I have an entire tackle shop with me.

Figuring out what tackle to take was simple when I was young. I had a single Eagle Claw spinning rod and a meager tackle box. That covered every situation well enough. I was proud of that spinning rod. It was a big step up from its cheap predecessor that was plucked from the rack at Thrifty drug store. It wasn’t the Fenwick I wished for, but it got the job done. It was a bit like my first vehicle: an old Chevy pickup made the same year I was born. It wasn’t the shiny new Corvette I would have preferred, but it got the job done. More often than not we have to go with what is practical and within our reach. There is nothing wrong with that.

Those were simpler times. I still don’t have a Corvette. I do have a dozen or so fishing rods, multiple tackle boxes and more tackle than you can shake a stick at. I like to have lots of gear available. But I also like to travel light.

I used to have a fly vest packed with way too many fly boxes and every accessory known to the modern fly angler. I am now happier to take a single fly box (or even a film canister filled with flies), some extra tippet material and a pocketknife: an entire arsenal that fits in my pocket. There is something to be said for simplicity.

When I am on the lake trolling I don’t want to fuss with too much gear. I just want a tackle box that has the lures and accessories for the kind of fishing I am doing at that time and that place. Nothing more. Nothing less.

But achieving that sort of simplicity from a basement full of fishing gear requires some serious organization. I need fishing gear grouped and organized for specific fishing situations. I am not there yet. Maybe I will work on that today.

It is not fishing. But it is moving in the right direction.

First, I better throw another log on the fire.


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