March 24th, 2003

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Duct Tape Isn't the Only Indespensible Tape
By Peter Frailey

Not too long ago my home state of Massachusetts stopped issuing the kind of license that had to be folded into a tiny wad and stuffed into one of those little plastic sleeves that fishermen pin to the back of their hats. Those little red plastic sleeves (photo below) had been fishing fashion since I first lobbed a bobber, hook and worm into the water in the mid-1950s, so I am sorry to see them go.

Now, we need not keep our license attached to a piece of clothing. We are legal in Massachusetts as long as we have a valid license with us.

Another recent change is the use of the Internet to procure a license. In some states, after completing the application online and paying the fee over a secure server, you can print out your license immediately. In other states, you can print out a temporary certificate to use until your license arrives in the mail. Still other states remain a bit more primitive: you can print out an application from their Web site, but must mail it with a check.

Though the four New England states in which I plan to fish process online licenses differently, in each case the result is the issuance of a license on water-soluble paper. So, how do you store a paper product in a fishing vest, especially if it might have to endure multiple dunkings and wet weather?

My most prized vest-stored paper product is a small roll of toilet paper. Over the years, a zip lock bag has kept it soft and dry. (So soft and dry, in fact, that one day deep in the woods I was able to barter a dozen flies from my brother for it... He now carries his own!) So, it seemed quite appropriate that I confiscate another zip lock bag from the kitchen to use for my licenses.

As I recall I fished one season with my licenses stored in this manner. Other than once getting the bag caught in a zipper, there were no drawbacks. But in January I came up with an "improved" system. I had purchased my New Hampshire non-resident licenses online and had printed out several copies on my color printer. I was also in the process of boxing a couple of wrong-sized Christmas gifts to return to a mail order store, when I realized that the clear packing tape that I was using would make an excellent laminating material.

As pictured below, using the New Hampshire license I purchased online and printed out on my color printer, I am able to get a nicely laminated license by taping both sides of the license and trimming around the edges with a pair of scissors. The license then slides easily into a fishing vest pocket. With my New Hampshire license, I printed three copies, laminated each, and put one in my vest, float tube, and car glove box. I've used this same technique to give my kids photocopies of our dental insurance card and a list of important telephone numbers to keep in their wallets. You can't do that with Duct Tape!

~ PF

You can contact Peter through his personal Web site

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