Winter has officially set in across the country and it means one thing, another year has come and gone without enough fish caught. You’re likely looking out the window these days, dreaming longingly about being on the water. It’s normal, it’s called the itch, and you’re certainly not the first angler to deal with it. However, there are some ways you can curb the itch until the spring thaw comes and you have a rod in hand once again. These 3 fishy tips will help you prepare for the new year now, that way when the calendar changes, you’ll be ready to Explore Your Water.

Clean Your Gear

You’ve heard this one more times than you care to; we all have. But there’s one big reason to take care of your gear that so many overlook: it saves you money. Waders, boots, lines and flies are all expensive, and you can greatly lengthen their lifespan with a little tender loving care. Take a few hours one weekend and clean your boots, waders, and lines. It will help them perform like new, and if they have any malfunctions, it’s better to find out now than on the water. 

This is also the time to go through your flies, leaders and tippet, and take stock. Start with your fly boxes, open them up and let them dry out. Any moisture trapped in there means rusty hooks, which is bad all the way around. You’ll also want to see what all you have left over from the season, so you can start tying or buying to restock. Next turn to your leaders and make sure they’re smooth and translucent. Next, take a peek beneath the rubber band on your tippet spools. The last thing you want is to add a dropper on your first trip of the year, only to realize you only have eight inches of 5x left.

Re-Familiarize Your Regs

Every winter, states across the nation will release their updated regulations for the new year, and now is the best time to get familiar with them. While most laws will stay the same, others will certainly change, and it’s every angler’s duty to stay up to date. This is also the time to renew your licenses and permits.

If your state’s license runs from January to December like Pennsylvania, go ahead and renew it so you’re ready when the New Year comes. Some states run a full year from purchase date, like West Virginia, so check and make note of when you bought the previous year’s. You don’t want to walk out of the house one day with an expired license in your pocket. If you do all of this now, you won’t have to worry about reading laws and regulations when the sunshine returns. 

View state regulations, stream access laws, and renew your license with the onWater app.

Start Preparing for Your Next Trip

If after all this you’re still chomping at the bit to go fishing, start planning your next trip. While you won’t actually be on the water, it’s fun to dream and it will give you plenty of time to prepare. Once you have a budget, and an idea of when and where you’re going, the fun part really begins. Start by scouting maps and access points, as well as getting in touch with local fly shops. They’ll set you up for success, and you may even receive some intel you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Fishing trips are one of the great joys of life, and there’s no better time to start planning your next one than the present. 

Winter sucks. At least it does for most anglers, and sometimes the only way to scratch the itch is to start prepping for the new year, now. 

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