Prepping for the Unexpected

A Fly Fisherman’s Guide to September Preparedness

As fly fishermen, we understand the beauty of the dance between patience and action, between waiting for the perfect moment and seizing the opportunity. Just as in fishing, life can be unpredictable, and prepping for the unexpected is key. September, recognized as National Preparedness Month, is the perfect time for fly fishermen to re-evaluate and upgrade their readiness game. Here’s how you can gear up and ensure you’re always prepared for the unexpected, both on and off the water.

1. First Aid Kits: A Must-Have, Not a Maybe

Fishing environments can be both serene and hazardous. Slippery rocks, hooks, and unexpected wildlife encounters can lead to injuries.

Essentials for your Fly Fishing First Aid Kit:

  • Adhesive bandages of various sizes for minor cuts or abrasions.
  • Antiseptic wipes to clean wounds.
  • Tweezers for removing splinters or, dare we say, wayward hooks.
  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Sunburn relief gel or spray.
  • Insect bite and sting relief pads.
  • Waterproof medical tape.

This kit should be compact and waterproof. Store it in an accessible place in your fishing bag.


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2. Vehicle Preparedness: Don’t Get Stuck Unprepared

Often, the best fly fishing spots are off the beaten track. This remoteness means you should have some essentials in your vehicle.

Vehicle Toolkit Essentials:

  • Jumper cables – Cold mornings can be tough on car batteries.
  • Spare tire, jack, and tire iron – Essential for those rough or unpaved roads.
  • Water bottles – Always have extra, especially in warm weather.
  • Blanket – It can get chilly, especially if you’re out until the evening or start early morning.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable phone charger.

3. While Fishing: Always Be Ready

Fly fishing takes us to the heart of nature, which means we should always be prepared for its unpredictability.

On-the-Go Preparedness:

  • Weather gear: Even if the day starts sunny, always pack a lightweight rain jacket or poncho. The weather can change quickly, especially in mountainous regions.
  • Communication: If you’re in a remote area with spotty cell service, consider investing in a waterproof, portable satellite phone.
  • Emergency whistle: It’s lightweight, doesn’t rely on batteries, and can be a lifesaver if you get lost.
  • Water purification tablets or portable filters: In case you run out of water and need to drink from a natural source.
  • Navigation tools: While many rely on their smartphones, always have a backup. A waterproof map of the area and a compass can be lifesavers when electronics fail.


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4. Wild Encounters: Respect and Preparedness

Depending on where you’re fishing, you might encounter wildlife. While most animals will keep their distance, it’s essential to be prepared for the unexpected.

  • Bear encounters: If you’re fishing in bear country, carry bear spray and know how to use it. Always store your food in bear-resistant containers.
  • Snakes: Wear sturdy boots and be cautious where you step, especially when moving through tall grass or near rocks.
  • Insects: Always carry insect repellent. In some areas, insects like mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance; they can carry diseases.

5. Know Your Spot: Understand the Terrain and Water

Every fly fishing spot is unique, with its own set of challenges. Research the area before heading out. Know the terrain, the kind of fish you’re after, and any specific risks associated with that spot.

  • Water currents: Even if a river or stream looks calm on the surface, currents can be swift. Always be cautious and wear a life jacket when wading in unfamiliar waters.
  • Tides: For those who fly fish in coastal areas, understanding and respecting the tides is crucial. Being caught unawares by a changing tide can be dangerous.

6. Personal Needs: Medications and More

If you or any member of your group has specific medical needs or conditions, always be prepared.

  • Medications: Always carry an extra day’s worth of any prescription medicines.
  • Allergies: If someone in your group has severe allergies, ensure they have their epinephrine auto-injector (like an EpiPen) with them.
  • Emergency contacts: Keep a waterproof list of emergency contacts. While most of us store these in our phones, having a physical list is a wise backup.

Final Thoughts

Fly fishing is not just about catching fish; it’s about immersing oneself in nature, understanding its rhythms, and respecting its unpredictability. This September, let’s take the ethos of National Preparedness Month and apply it to our beloved pastime.

Remember, it’s always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Tight lines and safe adventures to all!

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