Merwin: Winter Survival Tactics

Our first big winter storm blew in this morning. The wind is honking, and snow is drifting up around the kitchen door. Inevitably, fishing thoughts turn inward at times like these. I need a winter plan.

I've already ordered a new fly-tying vise (Renzetti Traveler) and have big ideas about filling the gaps in my fly boxes over the next few months. This just might be the first year in decades that I actually get ahead in that department.

And there's a large box of cedar balusters in the basement near my lathe, ready to be turned into striper and freshwater bass plugs. That's a fun if time-consuming process and wonderfully satisfying when a fish whacks a lure you've made yourself. I'll try to get into that in greater detail here over the next few weeks.

And rods. There's at least one rod blank I'd like to get and build over the winter. That's another satisfying project in that whatever rod I build I'll make to suit myself exactly. Good as many tackle-store rods might be, none suits as well as true custom work.

Most importantly, I need to take the fly, spin, and baitcasting reels I used most often last season and give them a good servicing. This is for the most part a simple process, but when I don't do it--as I have often not--next spring some of those reels will have corroded, will make odd grinding noises, and drags will have developed fatal stutters.

So as I think about it, winter is shaping up to be pretty busy--not even counting any trips or ice fishing or perhaps mid-winter steelheading should I suddenly have a desire for self-punishment. And maybe winter isn't so bad after all....