Do you spend half the year staring at frozen fisheries and thinking about warmer days? Instead of wasting what little daylight you have this winter, use the time to get things done that will help make next season your best one yet. Here are five essential fishing-related tasks to help you stay sharp and ready this off-season.

5 Things to Do This Fishing Off-Season

1 Clean, Repair and Organize Your Gear

It’s not the most exciting off-season task, but looking after your gear may be the most crucial. First, gather up all of your kayak fishing stuff and set it out for a proper inspection. Make sure to clean and maintain all of your lures, oil up and repair your reels, and go over all of your rod tips and guides.

Once everything is up to par, reorganize your gear so it will be ready at the drop of a hat when the local fishery thaws. I like to respool all of my reels—both spinning/baitcasting and fly reels—so I don’t need to worry the first time I hook a fish. Fly lines can be reused, as can other lines if they’re in good shape, but you should at least reverse them.

man drags kayak across snow during the fishing off-season
If you can get out this off-season, do it! If not, use the time to get other things done. | Feature photo: Ben Duchesney

2 Plan a Trip

The best way to while away the time during a long winter is to start thinking about next season. And there’s no better way to build anticipation than to plan your next trip.

If you want to go on a trip next spring, the best time to start planning is right now. The sooner you start drawing up gear lists and figuring out trip responsibilities, the better chance your trip will come to fruition. Don’t believe me? I just got off the phone with two friends so we could start planning a trip for next May. It’s not even Christmas yet.

Photo by gaspar zaldo from Pexels
Photo by gaspar zaldo from Pexels

3 Learn a New Skill

With kayak fishing, fly fishing, fishing and paddling, there’s always another skill to learn. And this learning isn’t just academic—it will make you a better angler. The best time to learn a new skill is when you can focus and not worry about the fishing you’re missing, so dive in this off-season.

Find a local class on fly tying, learn to roll your fishing kayak in a pool class (sometimes in a nice, toasty indoor pool) or find out how to start shooting better kayak fishing films. Putting your new skills into practice this spring will help to enrich the experience and keep fishing fun and exciting.

Photo by William Choquette from Pexels
Photo by William Choquette from Pexels

4 Get Healthier and Stronger

This summer I started running and I couldn’t believe how much it affected my kayak fishing. Not only did I fit into all my gear better, but I was also able to paddle longer and farther. Instead of getting worn out by late afternoon, I could stay out all day long without feeling tired.

Not only will working on your health help you feel better on the water, it also lets you focus on fishing. This was apparent when I went out in San Diego Bay with Morgan Promnitz of Hobie Fishing. Rather than cursing my aching muscles, I was able to enjoy our repeated pedals across the bay to fish beside flocks of working birds. The other benefit of winter exercise is that healthy anglers live longer, which means more years of fishing.

Photo by Photography Maghradze PH from Pexels

Photo by Photography Maghradze PH from Pexels

5 Soak in the Stoke

My favorite pastime each winter is to binge as many adventure flicks as possible. I have a stack of fishing films, fly fishing films and adventure documentaries that would probably stand waist high. Rather than sulking about the fishing you can’t do, let your eyes feast on the adventure unfolding on the screen and live vicariously through the characters in the film. They can provide all the inspiration you need to last through the off-season.

Watching these films will help to cure your winter woes, but that’s not all. They also give you an easy way to share your passion and maybe pique the interest of someone who hasn’t felt the itch to fish from a kayak…yet. And what better present can you get this holiday season than a new fishing partner?

If you can get out this off-season, do it! If not, use the time to get other things done. | Feature photo: Ben Duchesney


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