The snow has melted and if you’re anything like us, you’re chomping at the bit to get your boat on the water. While I tend to be a dedicated wade fly fisher, there’s something you can’t beat about kicking up your legs and floating your favorite stretch of water or hitting warm water lakes after a long work week.
If you’re as ready as we are for the floating season, read on for some boat prep tips before rigging up and driving to the put-in.
Clean it up (& keep it clean)
The life of your boat, especially rubber rafts, is directly impacted by how well you take care of it. Simply put: cleaning your boat will increase the life of said boat. At the beginning (and end) of each season, we inflate our raft, wash it with a rubber boat cleaners (choose the correct cleaner for your type of boat), treat it with a UV protectant (such as Aerospace 303) and install the fishing frame.
After each float, we also spray it off, drain it out, clean out any food debris (orange peels and cashews are a garage mouse’s dream come true) or empty cans and make all river crud (or sunblock) is cleaned off. Manufacturers, like NRS, often have some other tips and tricks to boat maintenance.
At the start of the season, make sure your boat is well stocked with everything you’ll need for a day on the water and for emergency repairs. Our primary inventory includes three categories: boat/storage needs, fishing needs, and people needs. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it is what we include in our season and daily prep checklist. Plus, I think it helps catch more fish…but you won’t know until you try!
Boat accessories & storage
- Spare paddle
- Storage/seat back bags (Vedavoo has a really nice seat-back bag) for random odds and ends, a place to stuff kids toys, or an easy-to-access spot for your Postfly Monthly Box.
- Toolkit for emergency repairs (wrench, valve wrench, K-pump, patch kit)
- First aid kit
- Throw bag
- Rod holders (and at least 2 rods in different weights & setups – streamer, tandem nymphs, etc.)
- Boat net
- Packs with flies, tippet and tools
- Full cooler (more on that below)
- Life vests
- Sunblock, spare hat/sunglasses, extra water, enough food to feed a small army, beers
Load it up (& keep it stocked)
Now that you have your inventory identified, it’s time to stock the boat…and keep it stocked. In addition to the items mentioned above, we keep our YETI cooler and YETI water jugs at the ready.
If your rig is short on space, consider taking out a seat and replacing it with a cooler to get multi-functioning gear into a tight space. And whether or not you use it as a seat, make sure your cooler is full of all the essentials. Cold beer, sandwiches, snacks and more cold beer.
Based in southern Colorado, Ryan is a photographer, outdoorswoman, fish chaser, and proud mama to two wild Outdoors-loving kiddos. When not wrangling little ones or cattle dogs, you’ll find her on the water, on a trail or on the road looking for the next piece of water and (hopefully) high country trout.