Preparing for Christmas
Hey everyone. This isnít a list of stuff to bring on a trip to Christmas. There are several of those out there, and if you want to see mine just email me. This is about preparing yourself mentally and physically for a week of intense, exciting fishing under the blazing equatorial sun. If you prepare yourself properly, you can truly have the trip of a lifetime. If you fail to prepare yourself, expect frustration and missed opportunities. Iíve experienced both situations myself and would like to help you make the most of your trip.
Cardio: Youíre going to be walking on Christmas. A lot. Several miles a day in temperatures around 85-90 degrees and 80+% humidity if the wind isnít blowing. It will drain you. In anticipation of that you need to get in the gym, on the track, or just out to the nearest park and walk/jog/run to get your cardio up. This will not truly work the actual muscles you will use while walking the flats (wading through the water adds a drag that tires you in a different way than regular walking), but it will work your heart and lungs and help keep you from bonking when you have to walk over a mile back to where the boat is parked.
Break in your shoes: If you bought a shiny new pair of flats boots for your trip youíll need to break them in before you actually use them. Find out if they actually fit properly or if there are tight spots ahead of time. You might need to experiment with different sock combinations. Iíve sold more than a few pairs of boots to customers who spent a day on the flats here before their trip and found out the hard way that their new shoes didnít fit right. They were lucky I had a pair in their size available because there arenít any to be had on Christmas for love or money.
Casting pt I: Everyone should practice casting. Thatís a no-brainer. But itís especially important if you donít normally cast heavy rods with heavy flies. All you trout fishermen need to learn to cast an 8wt at least 50 feet with some degree of accuracy and without 500 false casts. Learn to double haul. Itís really, really important. My local fishermen arenít exempt from this. I donít care if you can cast an 8wt with a bonefish fly pretty well, a 12wt with a 6/0 streamer is a whole different beast. Donít wait until you get to the island to string up the big rod. You only get one shot at most GTs, you have to make it count.
Casting pt II: Practice in actual fishing conditions or at least as close to that as possible. This means getting in the water and practicing on a windy day. Donít just practice on a calm day in the park and pretend thatís what your fishing will be like. You need to see the havoc a 15 knot wind can do to sloppy loops. You need to see that sloppy casts that still turn over on dry land have a tendency to slap the water when itís up past your knees. The only way to do this is to get out there and see for yourself. Another thing to note if you want to hook a big GT- the big tides that the big fish like create really strong currents on the flats. This will pull the line away from you and force you to pull the line off the water and up into the air with every false cast. You wonít just be able to shoot the running line off the water. A customer brought this up to me and itís an important thing to remember when practicing with the big stick.
Tying knots: The coral is murder on gear. Unless you plan to spend a small fortune on factory made leaders, you need to be able to rig up your own. This means tying splice knots. If the factory loop breaks on a line, you will need to learn to make a new loop either with nail knots or served with thread. Again, the time to practice this is at home before the trip. If you wait until the night before fishing to start rigging leaders, expect to lose at least a fish or two to a poorly tied knot.
PMA: I have to bring this up because Iíve seen anglers that are generally otherwise nice people crack under the pressure of not catching fish. Positive Mental Attitude is not easy to learn and itís not easy to maintain when things arenít going your way, but if you donít have it, donít expect things to get any easier on the flats and donít expect much company around camp. Remember that fishing is for fun. We all have goals and dream fish, but even if you donít catch them all you can still be a good sport about it. Staying positive will keep you in the best place for your next opportunity. Even the best of us get skunked once in a while. And even if you catch your big fish, no one wants to hang around with grouchy person with a bad attitude.
Here's the guides from Alphonse giving some advice of their own for epic saltwater trips and how not to ruin them.
I hope this helps make your next trip to Christmas or anywhere else wild and salty a great one. Aloha