It’s wintertime and January to be sure which means it’s winter steelhead fishing season for me. In the Northwest there is this unspoken solidarity among those who fly fish for these bastards. I think it’s because we are willing to freeze our nuts off standing in cold water for half a day just to hook one. But it’s also what goes into it, the process of going through all your flies, what nymphs you used last season, what worked and what didn’t. Just getting prepared. You’ve got to layer with the right clothes and wear the right socks. You’ve got to make sure the waders don’t leak. And then you gotta time when you fill your thermos up just right, so you don’t get the ass end of the pot, while leaving enough to not piss off the woman you love. But since I have the flu, I’m trying to think about other things.
Since I’ve been sick, I’ve been given the royal treatment with things and remedies I’d never tried. She’s made me a boiling pot of water with ginger root. The idea is you let it boil and stick your head over the steam with a towel on your head. Pretty Cool. Makes you feel very off-the-grid. Then she told me to take a bath with a tincture of Eucalyptus drops in it. While I was dead to the world watching Band Of Brothers on the couch, she went out and bought a bunch of stuff I’d never tried but helped including theraflu, throat coat tea, and something else I don’t remember. The point is she knew some tricks I didn’t and they helped make my predicament more bearable. This got me thinking about two things: those times I was on an assignment and I felt lousy, was puking, or feeling a little T.U. in my tent, and also about the mad dash everybody makes before a roll to Wal Mart, trying frantically to throw enough crap into our personal gear bags so we feel prepared.
So instead of dwelling on fly fishing constantly, I decided to be ahead of the game and put together some of those things I’ve found myself needing or wanting and not having as they relate to personal comfort. I stayed away from addressing clothing because that’s another topic altogether.
- Book: of course mine is related to fly fishing, but that’s just to take me to a relaxing mental space
- Irish Spring: a guy told me last season to put this in my bag to keep everything smelling fresh. I did it. Irish Spring also helps keep deer from your rosebush’s.
- Band Aids
- Gold Bond
- Toenail Clippers
- Body Wash
- Toothbrush with the Guard on it. It’s awesome when you show up at the sink, pull out your toothbrush, and have gum or old tobacco kernels in your toothbrush.
- Halls Throat Lozenges
- Antiseptic Toilettes
- Car Freshener: can be the best thing in the world after a few days of stewing in a truck all day long with a truckload of dirty people. Can also be a huge I-O-U if you give one to a truck who has that guy that was never taught anything about personal hygiene
- 2nd Skin for blisters
- Chewing Gum for dull moments or when you run out of chew
- EmergenC: I usually take one during an endless assignment
- Address and Phone Book: every year I break a phone or lose one and have no way of contacting anybody because in this digital age when people don’t stay at home to get a phone call, we don’t memorize phone numbers!
- USB Car Charger, Spare Phone Cord and Auxillary Cord: it’s annoying when your trying to share the phone card and the guy with 21% battery life gets to charge theirs because you have 24% battery life. Even worse is being stuck with a Phil who doesn’t shut up and your aux cord is broken
- Spare Knife: I wear a leatherman but this is a back up knife. A Barlow. It’s a pretty cool little pocket knife.
- Headlamp and Spare Batteries. We are provided a headlamp for our line gear but rather than trying to make sure that head lamp gets back everyday, I don’t ever end a shift with the headlamp not being back in my line gear. Just rather use my own than be caught on the line saying “Uh yeah, I needed it to read about fishing last night.”
- Pill Box: Multi Vitamin for men, Zinc, Glucosamine, Tylenol, Tylenol Pm, Ibuprofen.
The list isn’t perfect. What I’ve got is a good bag of stuff, that when we get a resource order, I can keep my body in relative comfort and performance. And I’ve got the comfort of knowing it’s only January and I’m getting dialed.