The Polar Vortex is Not My Friend – Getting Through the Deep Freeze

Tomorrow’s forecast is showing a low temperature of five degrees.  For most of us who live in the Northern part of the country this is shaping up to be the longest coldest winter in recent memory.  More snow is on the way and just about everything that was water is now ice.  Even those of us that pride ourselves on fishing year round have been bunkered in.

The Polar Vortex in Full Force
The Polar Vortex in Full Force

So what does a rabid fly fisher do when he can’t fly fish?  Well lot’s of things.  First and foremost, many of us tie.  It is amazing how a few hours at the vise can really bring your mojo back in line.  These are great opportunities to learn a new pattern, experiment with colors, try new techniques, sample some new materials, or at the very least make sure the box is full for the thaw.  Last year I began tying with Sculpin Heads during the winter and I was thrilled with them as an alternative to dumbbell eyes. IMG_0047

I sometimes laugh at my buddy CW as he cleans and organizes his gear more than severe OCD folks straighten the fringe on area rugs.  With that in mind though, he has everything running like a well oiled machine with nothing left to chance.  Unspool all of your reels, check your backing for knots and overlaps.  Check all of your fly lines for nicks and cracks.  Throw away all of your old tippet material if it is mono as this is typically only good for a season.  Go through and sharpen your hooks, mash down all the barbs, and throw away any that are beyond repair.  Wax your ferules and oil your reels.  If you haven’t backed all of your drags down already, then you should especially if they are cork.  (This avoids any uneven drag surfaces)  Check all of your rod guides for burs that could damage your fly line.  Check your loop to loop connections for any stress cracks.  You would be amazed at how many aspects of gear management can go completely unnoticed until you are holding a slack line as the fish of a lifetime swims away with your favorite fly.

Bob Andra's Well Organized Fly Box
Bob Andra’s Well Organized Fly Box

Being a fan of  digital media, I love going through old pictures and video footage of past trips.  If you do it too much you start to feel like an old guy trying to re-live the glory days of high school but I think it is a great way to stoke the fires for planning your up coming year.   I will often come across a picture that captures a memory perfectly for me and I will say out loud to myself that I have to get back to that spot!  It might be something as big as that last trip to the Florida Keys where you saw the perfect sunset…

Marathon Florida Sunset

Or maybe it was that perfect day fishing golf course ponds where you just lit it up as bucket mouths were so aggressive they practically ripped the rod from your hands…

Largemouth Bass Slamming Clouser Deep Minnow's
Largemouth Bass Slamming Clouser Deep Minnow’s
Teeing Up Largemouth Bass on the Golf Course
Teeing Up Largemouth Bass on the Golf Course

Sometimes the best way to shake the doldrums though is to stop up at the shop and shoot the breeze with people that totally get it.  Remember they love talking fly fishing as much as you do so get up off the couch, grab a cup of coffee and see what’s shaking.  You never know what kind of good stuff you can pick up.  Speaking of cool things to do in the winter…. If you live in the Pittsburgh area, don’t forget the Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T) is coming around the corner on March 16th.  It is a great time and fish porn doesn’t get any better that this.


If you have any great tips for getting through the winter when mother nature gets the best of it, please let us know!  We love hearing all of your ideas.

Tight Lines and Warm Blankets,