Many of us are living in areas that require us to limit how much time we spend in public. All of us are in a world that is unfamiliar; a world that requires “social distancing” to fight the spread of a virus, to protect not only us, but those whose paths we may cross – we have a social responsibility (like it or not) to protect everyone.
For the collective kayak tournament fishing “we”, this time is a struggle. Major events have been indefinitely postponed; tournaments, seminars and shows canceled. The big gatherings of friends, with hugs, handshakes and conversation are being paused as we are limited to online only events in communities where those are allowed; KBF even changing the importance of the Challenge series in an effort to keep some normalcy for those who are allowed on the water. It is a different feel for sure.
That doesn’t mean our only option is to sit on the couch and binge watch Netflix (though the new season of Ozark was awesome!), or wonder when our next roll of toilet paper is going to appear on shelves. This is a chance to prepare, to clean gear…to spend time with your significant other so when the season does ramp up you can say “I did spend time with you this year”. I know that after each season, I had lists of “gonna get that done” or “clean that up” stuff I never got around to getting around to… so now is the time.
I put together a list of “five things I can do while quarantined”. Yours may differ, but by just writing them down, I felt better about the fact that I cannot be out.
Quarantine Fishing Activities #1: Inspect & Clean My Gear
Unlike some of you, I don’t stop in mid-season to clean my reels or check the eyes on a rod. Until a ceramic insert pops out of a rod tip, I never know I have a problem; I have even lost a couple of fish before I realize I have a jagged edge on that tip; one that is fraying my line. I know that one of my spinning rods had an eye come off during last season and I just shoved I back in… now I need to find out which one it was and repair it. While I am there, it is a good time to change my line.
I survive 40-60 hours of working my day job, then fish a tournament every weekend which doesn’t give me a lot of free time.
I have become very good at ignoring a tiny squeak or annoying squeal on my Shimano baitcaster and spinning reels. And the last time they were cleaned was… well, seriously fishing as much as possible for three years… so… now is as good a time as any to clean ‘em all up.
Quarantine Fishing Activities #2: Organize Tackle
I thought I had a handle on tackle organization until I talked with one of the hottest anglers on the kayak trail, Rus Snyders (see article), last year. I felt like the Yoda of tackle management was speaking and letting me know that “ready; I was not”.
Look at separating your plastics, putting them into some inventory scheme that you can understand and get ready for the water. I am even making a list of things I am short on or need to buy the second I break out and end up at Academy or Bass Pro.
It is a good time to put stuff in bins, change hooks, take out lures that you never plan to use and clean those that are your favorite.
I took cleaning lures to heart. My wife wasn’t happy to find topwater lures and crankbaits in the dishwasher among the forks and spoons… but I was using the dishwasher… and we are spending time together…
Quarantine Fishing Activities #3: Inspect the Kayak(s)
I am fortunate to have a brand new Hobie 360, so it has seen little time on the water. But I also have four other kayaks that I use for demo purposes, or to take others fishing with me. I know the last time I looked for hull damage or leaks was the 12th of never.
Right now is a good time to flip those kayaks over and run a light inside and look for light showing through the hull. Places where you have run them very thin will be exposed. Check any plugs or even look for loose foam blocks under the deck; tighten screws, grease drives, etc..
I just sold my PA12 and spent a day fixing the skeg where I had shoved a stick in to keep it up after the rope broke on a tourney day – two years ago. My guess is a lot of you have tied, wired, wedged or just removed something that needs some attention….?? And don’t forget to remove that Berley Pro Transducer cover… I found a couple of my favorite lures in there!
Quarantine Fishing Activities #4: Review Maps, YouTube, and the ANGLR App
Tournaments will begin again. Between now, and then, I plan to spend some time looking over maps of lakes (and Google Earth views) I know we will fish this, or next year. I took the time to create a remote power source for my Hummingbird Helix so I can sit on the couch and drop way points and scour Lakemaster in preparation for upcoming events. While on the unit, I can also learn more about its controls. It is a nice time to set up views, shortcuts and just play with the unit.
If you journal your trips (or use the Anglr app), this is a great time to relate the data you have collected to potential tournament dates. There are benefits to taking a scientific approach to your day on the water. If you are not journaling or tracking… download the Anglr app here… it is a great time to learn something new when you are between old YouTube fishing videos…
Quarantine Fishing Activities #5: Review or Create Fishing Goals
For me as a tournament angler, I love the competition, but I love the community so much more… it is not really about my hope of being the number one angler, but more about just being a part of it all. I know that. I have no illusions about why I will be here as long as I am able to get in a kayak – I just love the people in the sport. I have been blessed to fall into the writing gig; writing about my adventures. But for you; what do you want to accomplish?
What are you doing when it comes to fishing; doing it for fun, for sport, to avoid family gatherings? Make a list of why you do it, evaluate what is important to you.
I talk to a lot of anglers who say they want to try some of the bigger events… use the time to pick one; or more. There is no reason to feel like you are not ready. Sign up. Join BASS, join KBF… this will not last forever… come on out.
I look to Scott Beutjer as an example. I had no idea who this dude was a couple of years ago, I don’t know if anyone did. He told me the first time I met him he wanted to be immersed in it all, to make kayak fishing his life. He set some goals for himself and I am watching him achieve them while helping others (including myself) to be as deep in this kayak world as they want to be. I bet a lot of you know him now.
What are your dreams? Write down if you want to be a full-time angler, a photographer, a writer… or just a guy who fishes to fish and what you will do to get there.
These times are different. If you can get out and fish away from others, do it; there is no better “social distancing” available to you. I am unable for health reasons and I consider you lucky.
If you are deemed essential in your industry, field or job and must go out daily; do so with care and awareness that maybe you are healthy, but the person you just passed may not be and is at risk. This is not a time to be all about “me”.
Hope to see you all on the other side of it all, in the meantime… let’s take the time to reflect on how fortunate we are, and all that we have. Please do not forget those who are standing in the middle of a room full of beds risking their health and their families to keep people alive. If you get a chance to thank them… it is free to say it.
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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