Mia & the Little Gal: Mia Anstine shares float-fishing trip tips
After becoming proficient in casting a fly rod, it is fun to head to the nearest lake, stream or river. It is exciting to hook, land and release a giant rainbow trout as you stand on the bank. Then you learn to wade upstream and hook brookies. What could be better?
Float fishing on the river, that’s what! Nothing helps a fisherman perfect his or her cast more than standing at the bow of a raft, as an oarsman guides it downstream. Just as in life, you do best if you look ahead, because there’s no going back. You become precise in your aim as you attempt to place your bug in every hole and seduce a fish to bite. If you have never been, the Little Gal (LG) and I highly recommend trying it. Below are some tips on float fishing for children.
Where to start
Most of us don’t have our own raft or dory, so I would suggest consulting a fishing guide first. We live near the San Juan river, and if you are looking for a family fishing trip, this is a great place to go. You can contact your local fly-fishing shop to see where these types of trips are offered in your area.
Before you go, there are a few things you should ask your guide, like what the minimum age requirement is for children, if dry bags are available so your gear doesn’t get wet and if drinks, lunch and snacks are provided. Asking a few simple questions before can make your trip that much more enjoyable, and keep your little one happy while on the water.
It is a must to ask the fishing guide what gear he or she provides. Some guides provide all the required fishing gear (rod, reel, line, flies and net) and some don’t. If your guide doesn’t provide these items, ask what weight rod and what flies he or she suggests, so that you can bring your own.
I suggest the following items while float fishing. They are not “required,” but may come in handy and make your experience a more enjoyable one.
Polarized sunglasses are a must to be able to see fish that are in the water. LG and I wear Smith Optics performance sunglasses ($139 to $199) for women. They are available in a variety of fashionable styles.
It is important to protect your skin from the elements and prevent sunburn. Sunscreen, a hat, lightweight long-sleeved shirt and lightweight pants will be helpful to have on hot days. ExOfficio offers breathable, functional fishing-appropriate clothing for women. We have found sizes and styles to suite both LG and my fashion taste.
Nothing hinders a proper cast more than shivering. If the weather appears questionable, bring a jacket. While at iCast last summer, I added the Simms Women’s Guide Jacket ($329.95) to my wish list. This jacket is touted to stand up to gusty winds and torrential downpours and boasts flannel-backed, 3-layer GORE-TEX Soft Shell fabric.
It is possible that water will splash into the boat. If it’s chilly out, you, in turn, will end up wet and cold. Waders may come in handy. We like the Kate and Marilyn waders, offered by Reddington. These waders come in styles to fit LG’s long and slender physique, as well as my curves. When you’re wearing them on a boat, wear boots that are rubber bottomed and don’t have cleats that may cause damage to the bottom of the boat.
Your guide will give you and your little one instructions before boarding the boat. He or she, of course, has been there and done that, so listen to the advice.
The boat will sway, rock and roll down the river. Some people feel comfortable casting while they are seated. LG and I like to stand up, because it’s easier to see where your next cast should go. Always make sure you are in a steady position, so you don’t lose balance as the boat cruises downriver.
One tip that LG and I want to impress upon you is to always cast downstream. This is something many novice floaters don’t realize because they are used to fishing from a stationary position. Since the vessel is moving, if you try to cast beside you, the spot you’re aiming toward is technically already gone. Downstream, downstream, downstream!
Good luck and we hope that you and your children enjoy float fishing as much as LG and I do!