If you’re staying indoors a lot this winter, here are some ideas for staving off cabin fever.
Plan and book fishing and hunting trips
The best times and places, as well as the best guides, lodges and cabins, usually are booked months in advance. Plan carefully, but book your trips now. If you wait until summer, you could end up with whatever is left after some early bird got the best worm.
Tie some flies
One day in late winter about 25 years ago, a buddy called and invited me to his house to tie some flies. The only fly-tying tool I had at the time was a vise I’d received for my last birthday. I knew nothing, but I took him up on the offer. I not only had fun, but I learned skills that I use to this day. If you’d like to learn how to tie flies, the Trout Unlimited Kenai Peninsula Chapter is holding free monthly fly-tying classes this winter. See the group’s Facebook page for where and when. Whatever your age, and whether you’re a newbie or you need to fill your fly boxes for next summer, a fly-tying session is a great way to make a few winter hours fly by.
Get your 2015 licenses
With few exceptions, you can’t legally fish, hunt or even dig a clam without a current license. If you’re planning to take home any king salmon, you’ll probably need a king salmon stamp.
If you’re not required to be licensed, you’ll need a harvest card to harvest fish, shellfish and game in certain areas. Let’s say you’re an Alaska resident age 60 or older, and you have a Permanent Identification Card. If you catch a king salmon over 20 inches or longer in Cook Inlet, you’re required to immediately record it on a harvest card. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game web site has answers to any questions you might have about this and other regulations. Now is the time to get those answers, not when an Alaska State Trooper is approaching.
Do some preventative maintenance
Make a list of all your fishing and hunting gear that needs some tender loving care. My list includes cleaning and lubricating my fishing reels, at least the ones I know how to service. I let the pros clean my saltwater reels because they can do a much better job of it.
I don’t know about you, but I use very little of the gear I own. This winter, I’m going to go through it and either sell or give away everything that I no longer use. Instead of my present three tackle boxes, I’ll limit myself to one for freshwater and one for salt. I’m sure someone out there would like to have a bucket of lead sinkers. I have a like-new Simms Guide Jacket that no longer fits me, and I can probably sell or trade it for something I’d use. And there’s that set of extra-large rain gear that I never wear, and the unused back pack. You get the idea. If you don’t use it, get rid of it. As Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify.”
Buy some new stuff
Now is the time to go through your gear and replace what needs replacing. It’s a lot easier to find your favorite sizes and colors of lures now than during the peak of the season. And don’t forget to get plenty of the various sizes of hooks that you use. On the subject of buying stuff, there are several advantages to shopping locally. Locally owned stores will not only give you better service, but will appreciate your business far more than any Internet store.
If you’ve already done all the things above, you’re likely from another world. If so, be warned that what passes for spring on the Kenai Peninsula won’t begin for at least three more Earth-months. In that period, you’ll feel the onset of cabin fever, a malady that has prevented your kind from establishing a foothold in the North. Good luck with that.
Les Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.