Back Out There: Preparing for the New Normal on the Water

If you’re like most of us, you’ve likely been locked down inside for longer than we ever thought or wanted, and some of us still are.

In certain regions, we’re in the midst of the prime fishing season, but some considerations should be taken if you want to travel to your favorite fishing zones, take it slow and pace yourself. Most of us have been enjoying time off work, spending time with family, or working from home, which means we’ve been living mostly sedentary lifestyles. Usually, by this time of year, we’ve put in miles of wading, rowing, or hiking, but the lack of exercise in the past months spent sitting tying flies, or daydreaming about getting out on the water has left our bodies less conditioned to the long days in the field.

As I prepared to escape to my local fisheries here in Ontario, Canada, I found a few things that helped me stay in fishing shape and prepare for my fishing season even while stuck indoors. I hope they’ll help you get ready for the rest of the fishing 2020 holds in store for you!

Dial Your Casting In…Indoors

Echo practice rod
MPR helps improve casting and catching cats (www.echoflyfishing.com)

Get a practice rod. Since most of us are working from home, you can cast all day from the comfort of your office or desk. Work’s never felt so fun. Both Echo & Orvis make great practice casting rods and even have a Spey adapter. Both rods are focused on improving casting accuracy, muscle memory, refining your technique, or working on a new casting technique. One of my favorite games to play with my practice rod is to imagine my pet as my casting target. Perhaps his wagging tail is a tailing redfish or permit, or a trout holding in current sipping dries. The games you can play are endless, and you’ll improve your cast along the way!

Get Back Into Fishing Shape

Firstly, it should be noted that I’m not a personal trainer or an athlete, but getting back into fishing shape after spending the first 5 months of the year indoors will pay dividends as the season goes on. Train yourself slowly, to regain your strength & endurance. Create an easy exercise routine that resembles fishing if possible. Take a hike with your fishing kit on, or with a backpack with some weight in it.

I found a few other easy DIY workouts you can use to help whip your body back into shape. Grab an old backpack and use soup cans or laundry jugs to simulate a heavy fishing day-pack and take a long walk. Tie a rope to a weighted can, and wind it up and down while standing or sitting to help get your forearms conditioned for long casting days. Put a towel on the floor and scrunch your toes up to pulling it forward, this will help build lower leg muscle that comes in handy while wading in tricky spots or hiking through rough terrain. These are just a few ideas, but with a little Googling, you can find plenty of ideas for workouts that will benefit your fishing form.

Retrain Your Muscle Memory

When you’re able to get out on the water a few days a week or at least every weekend you build up muscle memory and reflexes. But after some time spent indoors, we may need to remind our nerves and muscles what it feels like to fish again. Take it easy while wading, you may need to get your wading feet back. Ease back into rowing your boat, it’s easy to over-commit to a long float and overexert yourself or inadvertently tweak something. Like every other outdoor activity, if we don’t do it for a while, we just need some practice. So, take it slow and enjoy the moment of being outside and doing what you love.

 fish in my backyard
Local stream gem in my home waters

Start Small, Stay Local

Stay local, and rediscover your back yard. This pandemic has reminded us that change is constant, and the future seems uncertain with every passing day. This is a great opportunity to explore the fishing opportunities close to home, and you’ll be surprised what fishing is right outside of your door. Staying close to home might just be a new adventure in itself as you never know what you may catch, discover a new species or technique.

If you have to travel to fish, do your best to treat it like a camping trip, bring everything you need with you from your local area. Bring your own provisions: food, water, stove, clothing, extra gear, etc… Get gas locally, food from home, or the local store where you have been before to lessen the chance and reduce the impact on other communities. At the very least, you’re preventing yourself from getting sick or passing it on to your loved ones back at home.

Challenge yourself to learn something new (for instance, I’m learning how to Euro-nymph) or fish for a species that you may not target that often. At the end of all this, you may find yourself with a new skill that you wouldn’t have honed otherwise. When you make that first trip and hit the water, the new technique or tactic may just help to land that fish of a lifetime and create a memory that will last forever, right in your backyard.

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Scott Smith is an outdoor photographer, videographer and published writer. Now a contributor to Fly Lords Mag. Fly fishing is his passion or obsession, a way of life. Scott is known for his enthusiasm, passion, and sense of humor. He is always adapting to the ever-changing conditions in Southern Ontario. Targeting big fish in tributaries, ponds, lakes, creeks, and rivers are all part of the game while chasing carp, migratory species or whatever the hot bite is.

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