I confess. I am NOT a morning person. After more than 25 years of working nights in the newspaper business, a 7 a.m. wakeup call kills me. My wife springs out of bed in the morning. I crawl toward the closest cup of coffee, my main source of survival before 10 a.m.
I fished with Walt Durkin and Ted Hagaman a lot this winter. They’re early risers.
We usually head out about the time the sun rises. I’ve done pretty well with
punctuality. Efficiency while rigging up? Well, that’s taken a while.
Not matter how fast I put on my waders, I always lagged behind. My fishing friends were ready for the water while I was stringing up my rod. It didn’t take long before I realized their rods were ready to go before the trip. I had always resisted this prep because I was wed to the notion that you wait until you find out what the fish are eating before you tie on your fly. It’s absurd, but it goes back to my days as a freshwater trout fisherman who wanted to match the hatch.
It didn’t take long before I got with the program and got a hairclip and a rubber band. I break the rod in equal sections and fasten the clip near the top and the rubber band near the butt. The fly stays for several trips at a time. No muss. No fuss. I’m ready to go in mere minutes. No more waiting.
The rod prep served as the first step in getting organized. When I fished freshwater, I typically dumped every piece of equipment I owned in my vest, which felt like a flak jacket more than an angling accessory. When I transitioned to the salt, I needed more gear, not to mention more organization. With a canoe, there were paddles, a seat, a cart, a storage crate, etc. The list of gear grew exponentially by the season.
After a couple trips of leaving stuff behind — it was a miracle I remembered my rod, reel and flies —- I knew I had to get my act together.
The biggest change was simple. I packed the night before. Everything went in the Jeep before bed. I even set up the coffee maker. All I had to in the morning was get dressed, grab a cup of Joe and go.
Packing the night before provided two huge benefits. I fished more, because I wasn’t wasting the time the morning of the trip stumbling around the garage looking for extra tippet. And now I rarely forget stuff. The night before I take my time gathering my gear. If I wait until the morning of the trip, I’m always rushed.
The night before, I can take my time, check my flies, leaders, rod and reel and make any adjustments well in advance. When I get to the water, I generally know everything will work. Confident preparation leads to confidence on the water. Confident fishermen generally catch more fish. Sounds corny, but it’s true.
Organization takes time—and effort. The more I fish, the better my prep is. If I take a few days off from fishing, I’m generally less efficient in my prep, so I try to make sure I fish regularly, even if the conditions are less than ideal. Too long of a break, and I get rusty.
I used to think the need for organization was a waste of time. Needless to say, I’ve reconsidered. I can’t believe I took so long to get with the program.