One of the most frequent conversations I have with clients prior to a trip is what they need to bring along to stay comfortable and safe while on a float trip.
What We Bring
We provide rods, reels, lines, flies, leaders, and all the fishing related tools we will need for a day on the water. If you have rods you want to use or flies you want to try, by all means bring them along! We will put our rods in as backups and they are there if we need them. We also provide lunch, snacks, water, and soft drinks. If there is something you would like us to pack for lunch, please let us know and we'll include it. If you have any beverages you would like to drop in the cooler, by all means bring them along.
All of our boats have life jackets for each person aboard. They do not need to be worn while fishing, but you can certainly request to wear one if you choose. While we do fish some fast and rocky water, actual life-threatening rapids are rare on our floats. In addition to life jackets, each of our boats has a very comprehensive first aid kit.
What You Should Bring
The first items you need to remember involve your personal safety. If you have medications that you need, don't forget to bring them. During the summer, bees and wasps are common, so please remember to pack your medication if you have an allergy!
Glasses are a must! Polarized sunglasses are perhaps your most valuable fishing tool, but they are also essential for safety. Fly fishing from a boat involves flies coming through the air at head height. We have never had a client hook him or herself in the eye and we hope to never have it happen. Pack a spare pair if you have them, and consider clear lenses if we'll be fishing in low light conditions. I can't stress the importance of wearing eye protection enough. It is essential.
Sun protection is also important. A long day in the boat can lead to some pretty severe sunburn without proper protection. Bring sunscreen you like. I'll discuss protective clothing below.
Even if no rain is in the forecast, bring rain gear! There are few things worse than being wet and cold and a quality rain jacket and pants are the best insurance against it. When it rains here, it can really come down. An upper midwestern thunderstorm can dump two or three inches of rain in a matter of minutes. Often these roll though and the sun comes back out, but the experience of getting poured on without good rain gear is not fun. Better safe than sorry.
May to Early September
The air and water temperature during this period range from mild to very warm. Unless the forecast calls for a cold front, a long sleeve shirt, and long pants are all you will need. Some kind of footwear that you don't mind getting wet is perfect. Unless rain is in the forecast, waders are not needed during this time. It can be pretty miserable in a boat wearing waders on a hot summer day. A fleece jacket is a good idea if temps will be on the milder side.
I really suggest not wearing shorts or short-sleeved shirts for one major reason: bugs. Yes, we have mosquitoes and biting flies. And yes, they can be a bummer some times. We have one kind of biting fly that really likes to attack your lower legs and will drive you crazy if you are wearing shorts. Insect repellent works to an extent, but there is no better protection than clothing. On hot days, we recommend technical fabrics that keep you cool and that dry quickly. There are a number of such items on the market and they provide sun and bug protection and allow wet wading in warm water, which actually feels great on a hot summer day.
Lastly, don't forget a hat. Baseball hats are fine, but to really protect yourself from the sun, consider a broad brim hat that keeps the sun off your ears and neck.
Late September and Early October
This is a transition time and we frequently we have chilly mornings and evenings with warmer days. You will want to layer so you can adjust accordingly. Fleece jackets and warm hats should definitely be included. This is the time for waders or wind proof pants. A good rain proof jacket makes a good jacket to wear over your clothing. I really like the wool fingerless gloves made by Simms. They stay very warm when wet and you can still manage line well. If there is an early cold snap, which happens, you will want to see the next section.
Late October and November
This is prime musky time in the Northwoods, but it comes at a steep price. Both water and air temperatures will be cold. Often very cold. For our visitors from warmer climes, this can really be a shock. You will want to bring the warmest clothing you have that you can still cast while wearing. Long underwear, sweater, fleece, a winter hat and a good shell are a must. You will want to wear waders or insulated rubber boots. Wet feet are a day destroyer.
The weak link at this time of the year are your fingers. There is no way to avoid stripping wet fly line through your fingers. We really like the fingerless wool gloves from Simms and they will work down to a certain temperature below which you are going to need some insulated gloves. Get some that you can manage line with. If you find a good pair, buy several so you can switch during the day when they become sodden. It's no fun spending money on travel, a hotel and a guide trip only to have frozen fingers wreck the experience. I bring at least three warm pairs of gloves with me for a day of guiding in November and my hands generally stay dry on the oars. Yours will get wet. Plan accordingly!
Items that I think can totally save the day are chemical hand and toe warmers. I buy them by the case and always have them in the boat, but you may want to put them in a , especially the toe warmers that you can put in your waders before we head out. Filling your coat pockets with these can allow you to put your hands in and get warm when your fingers are really cold. You can also put them in the cuff of your gloves on your wrist and they work wonders. I love them.
I hope this helps you plan and provides some sense of what to expect at the time of the year you fish with us. The most important thing to bring is an open mind about the weather. Our weather here in the Northwoods can be extreme. Some days it rains and some days the heat and humidity are high. Over the course of the fishing season, we see temperatures ranging from 0 to 110 degrees. It's unlikely that you will experience those extremes, most of our days on the water are very pleasant, but being prepared and open to what nature throws at us is a part of the fishing experience.