Does this image look familiar? A couple of big late season snowstorms have us feeling like Spring will never get here!
Many folks forget that our lakes in the north country don't usually ice out until late April and snow is still on the grade for the first week of May. We're all anxious to get out there. There will be a number of folks who venture out on opening day, which happens to be on Easter Day this year. Dead drifted streamers and small nymphs will help your chances of hooking up for most of the month of April, depending where you are. April is always pretty slow, but as fish come back to the rivers chasing smelt and bugs, you can catch some of the biggest fish of the season!
March is a great month to get all of your gear ready to go. Here is a checklist of things that I do to prepare for the coming season.
I go through all of my fly boxes and make sure to check all of my flies for rust or damage. I do this earlier in the winter typically so that I know what I need to tie or buy for the upcoming season. This can also be a great opportunity to crimp the barbs on all of your flies. We almost exclusively practice catch and release, and crimping the barbs on the hooks of your flies will make C&R that much easier.
Rods, Reels and Fly Line
Generally there isn't much to inspect on fly rods and reels, but it can be a good chance to see if you have any damage to either that you either want to fix or replace. Fly lines on the other hand need some pretty thorough inspection. Check your lines for cracks or cuts. If you have either, you really should look at replacing the fly line. I replace lines every one to two years. To increase the lifespan of your fly lines, you should be cleaning them. RIO products has a great video on how the best way to clean your fly line. The first sunny day over 50 degrees in March (if there is one) is a great time to get outside and clean your fly lines.
Any leaks from last year? I find it so difficult to repair waders. It might just be me, but I have a hard time finding the exact leak spot. If you had leaks last fall, look to repair or replace your waders. I know this can be expensive, but many companies will repair your waders for less than $50. Nobody wants to be standing in the river in late April with a leak in their waders!
March is the month that I whip out the calendar and see what I have available for dates to do some primetime fishing. During the winter, I find myself on Google Earth researching new water or scouring the internet looking for information on new trips that I want to take for the upcoming season. Now is the time to start booking lodging and guides. Lots of good dates are already filled up for both of these so make sure to do this as soon as possible to ensure that you fulfill those trips that you've been dreaming about all winter!
Aaron Broaddus is a passionate fly fisherman and a Maine guide.