I figure by this time of year, I’m lucky to be alive or at least lucky to be of sound mind and body. The arrival of March means I’ve survived the bulk of winter and the sheer bliss of being a prisoner of the weather. It means I’ve beaten the shack nasties for another year and can now find strength in the lengthening days of the approaching spring. And, if I haven’t freaked out and “shot six holes in my freezer” to quote Jimmy Buffet in talking about his own bout with cabin fever, than I’m doing just fine, thank you.
For the record, I do go outside in the winter. I fish, I hunt, I walk Danger, my three year old Lab who would likely freak out, too if I didn’t force myself outside so he could burn off some steam. I do go out and, umm, enjoy the beautiful Colorado winter, but only because I truly would either explode or fizzle away if I stayed indoors too long.
Let’s just say that cold weather ain’t my thing and call it good.
Sure, we still get some cold this time of year, but it is punctuated with periods of warmth, which helps – a lot. We still have some lingering snow in shady areas and even ice on many lakes; watching as its beaten back by daily warmth is very empowering.
As soon as the calendar rolls to the third month annually, it triggers some sort of Pavlovian response in my brain to get serious about tackle. Somehow, even working on gear gets mentally tough by February, but it gets oh-so-easy in March when open water and boating are on the immediate horizon. A sense of urgency takes over and suddenly I feel like there is not enough time to get it all ready, but at least I’m in a better mood anyway. In the same way that pregnant women are known to “nest”, in early spring, I tinker with tackle.
Assuming I was a good Boy Scout – err, angler – back in fall when I put all my open water tackle and gear away, it’s all ready for the spring tune up. Five months ago, I stripped old line, cleaned rods and reels and took a thorough inventory of lures. Even better if I’ve used idle winter time to replace hooks and/or split rings, sort plastics, cleaned nets and waders, etc. If I didn’t complete those tasks, now is the time. If I did, then now I can re-spool line on specific set-ups. I can stack loaded Plano boxes by lure genre for easy access as I head out on spring flings and basically I can be certain I have what I need immediately at hand.
This doesn’t sound like a big deal, even as I type it. But given that I am a multi species angler and guide, it’s a lot of tackle to tackle. When it comes to fishing, I’m also a perfectionist; the tackle needs to be just right, down to the finest details. We may be filming ice-out lake trout fishing one day, early spring bass fishing the next and then guiding for walleyes the day after that; the tackle required for each is different and there is no time to work on any of it between days without a fire drill.
To add to the early spring busyness, I typically move into a new boat in March. Like many fishing industry professionals, I sell my boat every fall (Hey wait, perhaps being boatless is the cause of my winter blues?) and start again in spring so that all the systems, design and components are new and theoretically reliable and the whole rig will look sharp on TV and for guide clients. It’s an outwardly great system, until you have to go through the buy/move in/set-up/sell/move out process yearly for a decade. Then you realize its work, like any other job. By the time I get really comfy in a new boat, it heads off to live with someone else who gets the benefit of all my set-up labor while I’m left to start over.
Given that I’m borderline OCD with my tackle, I refuse to move into a new boat without everything going into said boat being ready for battle. Given that I’m borderline lazy with mid-winter tackle prep, March gets real busy to accomplish this and I wouldn’t change a thing.
You know the great part about this whole annual process? It’s the life it breathes into my inner angler. You see, it doesn’t matter if you’re an industry professional that lives, eats and breathes fishing or a weekend worm dunker that only fishes now and then when the weather is nice and you happen to have some free time. The opportunity and potential that a dawning spring season promises is pure magic.
If there is even a hint of fisherman in you, at some point this month you’ll think about hitting your local waters. Subconsciously or otherwise, even the most casual anglers are programmed to be in a positive mood when things thaw out.
Make the most of this productive energy. I guess that’s my point. Get your tackle together (using whatever “together” means to you), grab a friend and go fishing. Geez, go alone, even. It’s a very natural spring thing – a right – to get outside and soak up some sun, all the while taking in the new life occurring at a rapid rate in the riparian habitat you’ll be experiencing. Get a head start on the approaching warm weather, catch a few fish and go home a reenergized person. Therein lies the power of spring and nothing says spring like a good ol’ fishin’ trip.
To paraphrase another Buffet original, “I’ve gotta stop wishin’, I’ve gotta go fishin’, I’m down to rock bottom again.” It’s a good thing March just got here!