fishing on a boat with friends
fishing on a boat with friends

Spring, yeah! It’s finally here. That means warmer days, sunny skies, and of course, fishing. Fishing is a great way to take in the emerging wild flowers, leafing trees, warming sun, and fresh air smells of spring. Not to mention the thrill of getting a fish on your line or watching your kiddo get hooked on fishing. Really, we simply see fishing as a good excuse to get outside and explore more on our own two feet.

So, gear up (or dust off that old gear), and head for the river or lake, stream, pond, or whatever water you have nearby! And while the fishing part is important (and fun), remember that it’s more about the adventure that it encourages. If you’re ready to test the waters, so to speak, hike-in fishing is an easy way to combine outdoor exploration with the excitement of angling.

Watch the weather

Mother Nature is fickle, and spring weather has a way of shape-shifting before your very eyes. While the spring season may influence which fish are biting, the actual weather doesn’t really impact the fishing. Spring fishing is more about staying comfortable through changing conditions than anything else. Cold, clear mornings yield to warm, sunny afternoons. Wet, windy days bring out more shades of green than a crayon box has to offer. The lesson is to be ready for anything. Dress in layers, so you can adjust to meet the weather of the hour!

And don’t forget your feet. Wet, muddy ground just comes with the territory. A boot like the Targhee III is lightweight, flexible, and waterproof, so you can explore comfortably, no matter what Mother Nature shares. Your choice of socks is also important, too. High quality socks like our merino-blend Flint or North Country crew socks go a long way toward keeping your feet warm and comfortable through a wide range of temperatures.

To fish is to explore

Regardless of your choice of rod or fishing style, think of fishing as exploring: hiking in, hunting for the perfect spot, all while taking in the smells and sights of spring. The leafy jungle of creekside brush and trees is not yet at its fullest, making your line of sight and path forward easier than it might be later in the season. After all, the fishing gear you packed is just a good excuse to explore more, right?

Whether you’re following a river or hiking around a lake, you must often blaze your own trail when fishing. So, it’s important to have shoes or boots with the traction and support to hop between rocks and bushwhack through rough country. Our Ridge Flex Waterproof Boot has a soft rubber outsole for rock-gripping traction and confidence in slippery conditions. And, as the name implies, it keeps your feet dry, too. Wet banks and muddy trails just become part of the experience and the stories you get to tell afterward.

a father and child fishing along a river

Off the beaten path

The fewer people the better when fishing. Fish are sensitive to activity, and spring is no exception. Easy access equals high traffic, so moving just a little further upstream (or down) to get off the beaten path will always yield better fishing results. Plus, it fits our “explore more” attitude! Go ahead and hike, wander, or walk a little bit further in search of that hole that no one else has fished.

KEEN Tip: No matter where your wandering leads, it’s important to respect the space of fellow anglers. Be sure to keep dogs under control and give others plenty of space to have a good experience.

Wet wading

While waterproof waders and wading boots are the gear of choice for serious anglers and extended sessions in cold water, you don’t need them to have a good experience. Wading in water shoes (wet wading) is a great way to extend your range when the water is shallow and the temp is more moderate. It also means carrying less! Getting in the water opens access to that special piece of the river or hard-to-reach hole where the big one is just waiting for your cast. Our Newport sandals are popular with wet waders, and the KEEN SOLR (Sea, Ocean, Lake, River) sandal is also made for wearing in and out of the water. They’ve got some serious amphibious grip, too. Read about more KEEN water shoes.

a person fishes from the middle of a river

Gear list

A complete fishing gear list really depends on what type of fishing you are doing — fly, spin casting, wading, surf casting etc. But there’s a few solid basics that should make every anglers packing list:

A valid fishing license - Check with your local fish and game department. Most states offer easy online licensing.

Polarized sunglasses - These reduce glare off the water and actually let you see below the surface, so cool.

Multi-tool - A good multi-tool puts pliers, scissors, a sharp blade, and more in the palm of your hand (or at least your pocket).

Nail clippers - Really, but not for your nails! These are for trimming knot ends and clipping line. Try putting a set on a lanyard attached to a belt loop or to wear around your neck.

A net - Hopefully, you’ll need this one. You can certainly fish without a net, but a small handheld one makes landing a fish way easier.

Tenkara fishing rod and other essentials to pack

Consider tenkara

If you’re new to fishing and like the idea of traveling light and exploring, then you might just like tenkara. Originally from Japan, tenkara takes a minimalistic approach to fishing for a simpler experience. It’s like a simplified version of a traditional fly rod setup that’s great for beginner anglers and an adventurous mindset. Start-up costs are less, there are no moving parts, and tenkara has all the Zen of fly casting. In fact, it’s an art all of its own. Plus tenkara rods are super-lightweight and pack down for easy storage in a day pack or for overnight trips. (One of our KEENmates loves taking her tenkara rod SUP fishing.)

With spring in the air, consider adding hike-in fishing to your bag of adventure tricks. While the dedicated angling crowd might think differently, fishing can be as much about the adventure of getting out as it is about the fish. After all, it’s called fishing, not catching. Happy spring!

a father a son fishing on the edge of a lake

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