Marty Grabijas (Marty G. to his friends) was introduced to the outdoors at an early age through fishing. Living in Buffalo, New York, a simple line cast from some of the best canoe water in the world, Grabijas soon turned his sights toward Ontario as his base of adventure.
“There were summers when I was dropped off after final exams and just roamed the backcountry in a de-tuned racing C-1 with no destination in mind other than the next lake or river system,” Grabijas says of his early explorations. “I would go for weeks and months living on fresh smallmouth bass, pike, and rice. And even though I have fished all over the world, my mind still wanders back to those days. It was an incredibly carefree and adventurous time.”
Now living in Washington state, Marty splits his recreational time between kayak touring, river running, and chasing trout and salmon in the Puget Sound region.
Here he shares his vast experience in catching fish and explains what he likes in boats and gear.
Fishing is extremely process-oriented. You string your line through your rod, add a lure or fly, change the lure or fly to suit conditions, catch and land fish, and repeat. These accessories will help organize your life and keep you in the game, whether that game involves sunfish on a farm pond or 50-pound salmon.
Temple Fork Outfitters Rods
Price: $90 to $300
No other rod company offers as much value as Temple Fork Outfitters, also known as TFO. From the heaviest spinning rod to the lightest fly rod in their Finesse Series, TFO offers performance comparable to that of rods costing two to three times more. My everyday stick is a 9-foot 7-weight TiCrX Series fly rod from Temple Fork. It is the perfect heavy freshwater/light saltwater/steelhead rod, and has done everything from horsing largemouth bass out of lily pads to bringing in chrome-bright 25-pound salmon fresh from the sea. All TFO rods carry a lifetime warranty.
XTools Floating Pliers and Dehookers
Price: $12 to $16.50
When the package arrived from XTools, my wife was instantly transfixed, thinking that I had been thoughtful enough to actually buy her something that didn’t involve outdoor toys-er-tools. With their attractive colors and sculpted designs, Xtools’ series of floating pliers, dehookers, and fish scales look like they would be more at home in a contemporary kitchen than out fishing. However, after one morning of fishing, it became clear that these tools were designed by dudes and dudettes who spend a lot of time on the water. Anyone with much boating experience will tell you that what goes in the water usually goes to the bottom. This can include vehicle keys, knives, pliers, and other assorted junk. XTools wisely molds their units out of rustproof composites, and then buoys them up with foam that has a lighter specific gravity than water-meaning that they float. In the hand or on the fish, XTools have a light feel that makes them more an extension of your body than a piece of metal in your hand.
Simms Gore-Tex WindStopper Half- Finger Gloves
Pogies keep your hands toasty when paddling, but keeping digits warm when fishing on cold mornings is the domain of Simms’ Gore-Tex WindStopper Half-Finger Gloves. Nothing stays dry for long when you’re paddling and fishing in the Pacific Northwest, but these gloves did an admirable job of retaining their thermal properties when wet, and the Gore-Tex WindStopper component shielded our hands from heat-robbing wind. My hands have never been happy in half-finger gloves. However, these units, with their anatomical cut, kept my hands warm and my digits ready for more delicate tasks.
SealLine Seal Pak
At first we thought that a waterproof, rolltop waist belt was a little too Paris Hilton-a little too “man purse.” However, after a few “It is 5 p.m. and we have 90 minutes of daylight, let’s get the hell out of here and go fishing” days, we succumbed to its handy grab-and-go size. At 8 by 8 by 3 inches, the Seal Pak is ideal for carrying a box of lures or flies, your license, a Clif Bar, a Leatherman, and a pair of forceps.