Plan For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

Simms Guide Ambassador Brant Oswald tells the tale many anglers have experienced, but never want to repeat

As my head hit the pillow, I felt like a 6 year old getting tucked into bed on Christmas Eve. But for a Montana trout guide, it was even better than that. Tomorrow morning would be the start of the ultimate busman’s holiday–heading back to the South Island of New Zealand to fish with several good friends and some outstanding Kiwi guides. As I drifted off to dreams of impossibly clear water and big trout tails, wagging happily in the current, my last thought was “Funny, that almost feels like a sore throat coming on….”

For a day or so, I thought I might kill the cold virus with willpower and moderate doses of red wine, but by the time we had arrived in the little town that would be our fishing headquarters for the next 10 days, I sounded like a bad Nyquil commercial–hacking cough, sneezing and sniffling. I carry a few things in a medical/first aid kit, but hadn’t planned for this. Luckily, my fellow travelers had some over the counter remedies that kept the symptoms under control to get me through several fishing days. I managed to catch some nice fish, but never felt that I was on my game for more than a few minutes at a time the whole trip.

So it’s a disappointment to plan a trip all year and to end up getting sick or have something come up that throws a wrench in the works. But as I told my tale of woe to friends and clients on my return home, my first realization is that everyone who travels can tell tales of trips that didn’t turn out as planned.

Lessons learned for future trips? One lesson is to plan and pack adequately. With busy modern schedules, one part of trip preparation that is often neglected is getting ready physically. There is often a scramble at the last minute to finish projects before leaving on a trip, and it is easy to neglect things like sleep, exercise, and proper diet in the run-up to departure, leaving the traveler more vulnerable to health problems.

Make sure your travel kit has all of the medical supplies you will need. I will never travel again without some OTC medications to deal with cold symptoms. Consult with your doctor (a doc who fishes is ideal) and ask about prescriptions for antibiotics for common infections. (If you take them, be sure to follow TSA rules for traveling with prescription meds.)

But maybe the most important rule to learn is “No Whining”. As the modern idiom has it: “It is what it is”, and your guide and fellow anglers don’t need their day ruined, too, so suck it up or stay home. It has also been pointed out to me that I could have suffered through the same symptoms in the snow and wind, instead of toughing out those summer days of good company and cicada fishing….

Brant Oswald is a Simms Guide Ambassador, fishing outfitter extraordinaire, and casting instructor based in Livingston, Montana.  To find our more visit

Even though Brant’s trip didn’t go as smoothly as he might have liked, looks like he was able to put his skills to good use.

  • Jeff

    I can tell you’re having a really bad time!

  • Scott

    “No whining” is spot on. I too was struck down with sickness on day one of a NZ trip. I ignored it and concentrated on the job at hand – catching giant trout. My memory of that trip is filled with positive images of big brown trout and crystal clear streams, I can’t even remember feelng sick.

  • Those Brown Trout look sick, but in the good way.