FITTER TO FISH
It is a given that on October 1st I will be not be around. Like most other anglers, opening day is the day that we look forward to all winter. Hours spent tying flies, looking at maps, making plans and sorting gear. A few might even get outside and practice their casting.
But how many of you have thought about putting some energy into getting physically prepared for those long, hard days on the river?
I'm lucky in that I live in Taupo and have rivers on my doorstep to fish all through the close season but they are quick to get to and have nice walking tracks everywhere to make life easy for you. This means that I lose that strength and fitness that comes with fishing way out in the backcountry week after week.
It's amazing what a difference a few hours a week, spent on a few simple things, will make to your days on the water. Long walks carrying backpacks, wading against the current all day, multiple crossings, how well you fish and how good you feel at the end of a big day will all be improved by strength training.
Let's start by looking at your core. Everything starts from your mid section…..balance, stability, every kind of strength plus your endurance comes from there. Ever get to the end of a big day and have a tight, sore lower back? The stronger your core is, the more support your lower back has and the less back issues you have.....period. Extra stability and balance make you much more solid and confident crossing some of the bigger rivers and moving across slippy rocks and scrambling over things in your way become a lot more easier and safer too.
If you want to go that little further and hike in somewhere for an overnight trip, then chances are, you will be carrying a bigger than average pack.
Trying to get there, wade and fish with that on your back for a couple of days straight will take its toll on anyone, trained or not. Putting a bit of time into getting your body stronger and fitter will mean that you will feel better on the water, which will in turn, mean that you fish better, are safer and ultimately will enjoy your days more.
We all know how much hammer we give our legs while out there. Twisting knees into funny angles, climbing over boulders and getting up and down all day put a real strain on your leg muscles, tendons and ligaments. Even basic stability and bodyweight exercises will make heaps of difference to how you deal with all that as well as helping minimise those tweaks and strains you get throughout a season of fishing.
Getting stronger through your back, shoulders and chest makes your backpack feel lighter on those trips and really helps when you cast big flies into the wind, on heavy rods out on the flats.
A good start is just to get your ass up and start going for a walk a few times a week! Just that one simple thing will get you moving and covering some ground. Half hour to forty five minutes, three times a week is a good start to getting you going. Fitness and endurance plays a big role in how you feel at the end of the day.
If you do decide you want to try the gym thing, then go along and have a chat with one of the trainers there once you join up. Tell them what you are wanting to train for and they should have no problem writing you up a plan specifically for your goal. That said, you don't NEED a gym - you can do everything you need to do at home with bodyweight exercises and a couple of sets of dumbbells.
Whether you do a few exercises in your front room when you are home on your own, get outside and cover some ground or go join your local gym, it is worth your while to put some time and effort into your own body so that you can walk further, fish harder and get the most out of your days on the water.
I am a qualified personal trainer so if anyone needs some help and guidance, don't hesitate to contact me.