Things to do during those winter doldrums

The Super Bowl is over, the end to a seemingly endless football season. It’s now almost a month since that last hunting outing of the season and with subzero weather dominating this past week, flyfishing seems a long way off, and I’d rather go skiing than stand out on a frozen lake, looking down at a hole in the ice and waiting for a trout to jiggle a bobber.

Skiing is great fun and good exercise, but it isn’t hunting and it isn’t fishing.

Yes, this is the awkward time of the year and it is challenging to keep connected to the outdoors during this period. That doesn’t mean we should succumb to seasonal affective disorder and go into full-blown depression. There are too many things to do.

Something that’s easy to put off is to clean up equipment from the past hunting season. The last couple weekends I cleaned hunting boots and put a good dressing on them to keep the leather supple, so that when the next seasons starts my boots won’t hurt when I put them on for the first time.

Another aspect of the process is to give guns a good cleaning with those brass bore brushes and mops so those gun barrels gleam, inside and out. Don’t forget to take a close look at the wood on those guns and touch up the finish as needed. I did that last weekend and was dismayed to see a chip in the walnut next to the receiver of my pet 20-gauge over/under shotgun. I haven’t quite figured out how I’ll repair it.

While spring fishing seems a long way off, it’s not as long as you think and this is a good time to check fishing equipment and make any necessary repairs.

Above all, this is the flytying season. It’s time to look back and ask yourself what were the more productive flies you used last season and then start replacing flies that ended up in streamside pine trees.

Every year when I get back on the streams I open some of the fly boxes in my vest and make a vow that next winter I’ll just throw everything out and start all over again and start the next fishing season with all new flies. At the least, I should go through those jumbled up and matted globs of hooks, feathers and hair, and at least organize them in a meaningful way.

When I look at some other anglers’ fly boxes and see immaculate rows of flies, all perfectly tied and organized, I want to go behind a tree when I get ready to fish so they won’t see what a mess I have. Then reality sets in and I face the reality that I’m not an organized person. That jumbled up, matted glob of flies in my fly boxes is, in its way, a reflection of my corner of the room in our house that I laughingly call an office.

I’m one of those people that uses the floor as part of my filing system, with a folder of bills to pay, press kits from last year’s writers conferences, catalogs, clippings of articles I’ve written and clippings of other articles that I hope will inspire me.

If it seems hopeless I’ll claim in my defense that I usually find things I’m looking for, and that goes for both my office and my flies.

If frigid weather keeps us indoors it’s still important to get outside and do something, such as take the dog for a walk. I need the exercise and so does the dog. It’s also important to get some sunshine. Medical researchers have learned that we need a lot of sunshine to help our bodies manufacture vitamin D, an important factor in maintaining health.

Next week I’ll suggest another project for an outing in your backyard or neighborhood. In the meantime, don’t weaken. Spring is coming. Every day is a bit longer than the day before. Go browse a gardening catalog and dream.

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