Al Campbell, Field Editor

November 11th, 2002

Winter Projects
By Al Campbell

Another summer is over. It went too fast, unless you consider all the fires we had and the fact that cold weather has put an end to that. I didn't get much fishing done, and I'm not really ready for the cold weather. I don't even have all my firewood cut and stacked.

Last winter I spent all my free time working on my basement. I'm almost finished with that task, and maybe I'll get a chance to tie a few flies and (hopefully) build a rod this winter. Winter is a good time for those kinds of projects. Unless you live in the south, you'll need something to occupy your time when it's too cold to be outside fishing. It's your chance to catch up on a few things that need your attention. In case you run out of things to do, here are a few suggestions to keep you entertained and curb the cabin fever syndrome.

  • Tie some flies. - Winter is a great time to replace those flies you left in trees during the summer. If you don't already tie your own, maybe this is a good time to learn. There are several fairly extensive fly-tying courses here on FAOL to get you started or expand your knowledge. When it's cold and snowy outside, fly-tying is a good way to enjoy the sport.

  • Build a rod. - Nothing starts a new fishing season like a new fly rod. For some reason, new toys make the game more fun, especially if you can start the year with a new toy. Why not build your own this winter. It'll take your mind off the blowing snow, and give you something to look forward to in the spring. If you don't know where to start, look at the rod building instructions here at FAOL.

  • Build something. - Do you like birds? I plan to build a couple of birdhouses this winter. They don't have to cost a bundle, and birds are entertaining all summer. I built the birdhouses in this picture with mahogany scrounged from a hardwood pallet I picked up at the lumberyard. They were throwing the pallet out, and I saw a use for it. The cost - free. Why not do a couple of similar projects around your house. If you have kids, they will get a kick out of watching the birds feeding and caring for their young next summer. You might too. Sorry, no birdhouse instructions on FAOL.

  • Plan a trip. - Most people take a trip or two in the summer when lodging rates are highest. I know, that's when the best hatches occur, but you could stay maybe twice as long if you traveled in the off season. Still, summer is when the kids are out of school, the weather is nice, you don't have to worry about blizzards and icy roads, and photos of rivers with lush vegetation are always more colorful than the drab looks of winter. Look for ideas in the worldwide section under features here on FAOL.

  • Join fly swaps. - A lot of people salvage their sanity in the winter by tying and trading flies with other flyfishers from around the globe. You could easily get in on one of those swaps. It's amazing how differently people tie the same pattern. It's a fun way to pass the dreary snowbound days and make new friends at the same time. You can find fly swaps on the bulletin board, and they get very active in the winter months.

  • Take up a new hobby. - I just finished a series on macro photography and maybe you're ready to try it? How about a new fly tying bench? Woodworking is a fairly fun hobby if you don't have someone pushing you to finish a project on his or her timetable (like a basement remodeling project). If you do it right, you can easily spend at least a month researching which camera or new tool you need to buy.

  • Take a trip to a warm place. - A lot of people venture south for a bonefish or other saltwater flyfishing trip in the cold months of winter. It's a good way to break up the drudgery, get over cabin fever and enjoy a new way to catch fish. If you do this right, you can incorporate the fly tying and rod building suggestions into this idea. This kind of a trip will provide lasting memories and lure you like a siren's song toward a repeat trip another year. For ideas and destination possibilities, look at the worldwide area under features here.

  • Become a gourmet cook. - If you do it right, and take your time, you can be a great cook by spring. Sorry, we don't have instructions or recipes here yet; but if you're not sure you have it figured out, or if you just want a fair judge of your work, send me samples of the sweet stuff when you think you have it conquered. I'm a very good judge of that kind of stuff, and I need something to do in the wintertime too. ~ AC

  • Previous Al Campell Columns

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