It’s the time of year when long, glorious sunny days are but a distant memory. Daylight, as they say, is a burnin’. The good news is that with the winter solstice behind us, the days are starting to get a wee bit longer. If you live in the right climate and with a bit of foresight, you can turn a winter day into a multi-sport outing even with limited daylight hours.
- Research your route and plan a schedule: It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re out having fun, but stick to the plan if you want to enjoy the full-value day you’ve been dreaming about all week when you should've been working.
- Add in some buffer time: Rarely do things go as seamlessly as planned. Adding in an additional half hour for the transition from one sport to the next will help ensure you have enough time to enjoy it all.
- Pack ahead of time and set out early: Pack the night before (or earlier) and have your gear organized and laid out for easy access the morning of your adventure. Be prepared with all the food and hydration you will need for the entire day. There's no sense wasting precious daylight in the grocery store.
- Bring a headlamp: On a good day you’ll want to stay out as long as you would mid-summer. Artificial light makes up for the lack of sun.
- Go out with a partner that has similar expectations for the day: Communicate the full day's schedule. Nothing is worse than having your partner say "I gotta be home for dinner at 6," when you're stoked to stay out until dark (at least).
Mid-Winter Biking Tips
- Be prepared for wet or dry, hot or cold: Winter weather is variable. Be sure to always pack a rain shell (even if it’s sunny when you start the ride). Ride with a pack that also has room to shed a layer, sometimes fall feels a lot like summer. My pack of choice for a half day ride is the Deuter Pulse 3—It holds a 1.5 L hydration system with ease and still has room for tools, snacks and a rain shell.
- Stick to the plan: If you want to have time to, say, go fishing (and to be clear, we’re not talking about ice-fishing in the far northern parts of the U.S.), make sure you end the ride as scheduled.
Fly Fishing Tips
- Establish a system and refine as necessary: Fly fishing is much more enjoyable when your gear is organized and you are comfortable with the system you’ve established. This means keeping your tools, flies and net easily accessible.
- I fish with the Attack 20: It works for way more than just mountain biking. This pack is great on the river—it holds up to a 3-liter hydration system, has plenty of pockets to keep your gear organized, holds your net where you can easily reach it and has plenty of room for beer.
- Winter means lower flows: When river flows drop in the fall and winter it becomes crucial to keep a low profile and be stealthy in your movements, the fish can see you much easier with low water. Use lighter weight tippet and smaller bugs as the fish will be targeting tiny bugs this time of year.