By Jerry Audet
I really like to get outside on a daily basis. I think a lot of outdoorsmen and women would define it more as a “need”. I shy away from this language because, if for some reason I can’t get out, I don’t like feeling like I’m doing something wrong, or harming myself in some way. But regardless, I try and do something outside every day. I run, I fish, I ski, I walk, I take photos. I try to do something “significant”. For me, this is usually defined, arbitrarily, by being out moving in the woods, or on the shore, for at least an hour. If I do this, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. No matter how many things I’ve written, or read, or how many meetings I’ve had, or all the things I’ve fixed at work, nothing makes me feel like my day is complete like going outside and “doing something” for an hour or two.
But, it gets hard sometimes in the winter. I feel the “need”, but also feel all the factors working against me. Luckily, being from northern VT, temperature isn’t usually an issue. I’ve run when it’s been -10 outside, and think nothing of going for a walk when it’s +10. But fishing is complicated by water. Wet and cold is something that presents a whole number of other problems compared to cold alone.
One annoying problem that plagued me for years was frozen guides. No matter what kind of fishing you do- fly, spinning, conventional- it can be a problem. But as a fly fisherman, it’s especially obnoxious. I will admit, that since I didn’t fish so much during the winter until more recently, I just tried to deal with it. I’d fish until they iced- sometime in just a couple minutes- then just stop and break it out. I never looked up solutions. I knew you could buy some products to help, but it seemed like a waste of money for how little I need it.
This year, I stumbled upon an ingenious solution. Cooking spray.
Yep, like the Pam cooking spray you use making pancakes on the skillet.
I was skeptical, and decided I wanted to try it out on an especially terrible day. I had a chance to do that recently. While it’s actually been pretty mild since we got over that terrible hump in November, my brother in law and I recently went out when it was only 15 degrees, and the wind was honking. We poked around a local pond looking for a staging pickerel or- very optimistically- a bass. When I found a good looking little cove, we put down our stuff, and I began to work the edges of a steep drop off. Within only a couple casts, my eyes were completely blocked with ice.
So, I broke out the spray. Trader Joe’s, because that’s we had at the house. I didn’t really think about the bottle not spraying in the cold…which is what happened. It just dribbled out instead. So I dribbled some onto the guides of my little ultralight setup, and just for good measure, a little onto the line that was on the spool as well. Why not?
I began to cast again, noting that the spray on the 6lb braid in no way affected the performance. And the best part? After 10 minutes, I still had no ice! It worked great!
I only had one more little episode of ice the rest of the 30 minutes we spent casting, which was remedied with another spraying. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a single hit, and my hands were freezing (I hate fishing in gloves) so we decided to hike it back to the car.
Still, I felt the trip was a resounding success.
In winter, we have a lot of excuses to not get out. We have fewer hours of day light, and still the same daily requirements. Motivation wanes, as angling opportunities become far more “miss” and far fewer “hit”. We don’t need any more excuses. Eliminating as many extraneous complications as possible is essential. I hope this tip I’m sharing with you now is exactly that- one more extraneous complication eliminated. Or, one less excuse.
And I’ll throw out one more, potentially much more important, thought. This short post is a great example of a bigger lesson: there is always a way. If you want to fish, you should. Don’t let things like frozen guides stop you. Find the excuses, and eliminate them. If you don’t want to go, you shouldn’t. But if you do, you shouldn’t let logistics stop you either.