• The Fishing Vest and Other Stuff

    March is the time of year when fishing fever begins. The first sign of spring fishing fever is when packages and parcels from tackle stores begin to show up under the arms of homecoming anglers. The next sign is when fishing vests and tackle boxes are dug out of hibernation and crumpled waders come out of storage. Itís tackle tinkering time and like lots of activities, getting ready is half the fun.

    I wear a fishing vest myself, a special one that allows me to zip off the bottom section that would otherwise be submerged when Iím standing waist deep in the big rivers I prefer. I used to use a regular vest but nothing in the bottom half ever got a chance to dry and the vest itself smelled like a big wet retriever after a day of hunting in a duck marsh. With the bottom zipped off and the vest made shorter, Iím forced to make do with only twice as much equipment I will ever need, instead of carrying enough spare gear to turn me upside down in deep water. It took a while to figure out I was overdoing things a bit, about 17 years if I remember correctly. I handed a friend my loaded vest one time and when his eyes bulged out and I had to fish him and the vest off the river bottom, I figured it was time to cut back on the extra tackle.

    Still, equipment does you no good sitting at home so I bring along lots of fishing gear, called toy-stuff by my non-fishing wife.

    The first stuff you need is spare hooks and lots of them. They have to be easy to get at while you are standing deep in the water so make sure you use a pocket high up in the vest and a container that can be opened with ease. You need a wide range of sizes to suit different water conditions and you need a hook box that floats so another angler can get some use out of your hook box after you drop it in the river and it drifts downstream out of sight. This doesnít mean you have to quit fishing though, oh no. Just be patient and keep your eyes open, pretty soon someone upriver will send their box down to you.

    Next is spare leader material. I used to use monofilament leader line and had enough money left over to buy myself a coffee now and again. Now I use high-tech fluorocarbon leader material and I get my coffee for free at the local bank branch when I stop in to pay something on my anglerís loan. I guess the new fluorocarbon lines must be better because they cost lots more.

    Naturally I have scissors on a retractable key chain, I got them right after my dentist took one look at my teeth and asked if I was catching any fish. I figured maybe I hadn't got all the fish smell off my clothes but no, he said he recognized the notches in my teeth caused by biting line.

    I also have a set of surgical forceps on my vest, I got them for removing hooks from fish when I saw how well they worked at the hospital emergency room.

    Other stuff in my vest includes an electronic thermometer, a small flashlight, a knife, spare floats, yarn, trout flies, artificial baits and some other objects I donít recognize but may have been alive one day. On the right side I carry half-a-dozen containers of different sizes of split shot. Donít scrimp on this item because you wonít see any boxes of sinkers floating down the river if you drop yours. Letís see, I think thatís about all, I wonder why that vest is getting so darn heavy again? Maybe itís just because all my stuff is getting waterlogged. Perhaps when spring comes Iíll hang that vest on the clothesline for a week or two.

    Grant Ferris
    Grey/Bruce Outdoors