Take This Time to Prepare for Next Year’s Fishing
By now you might have filled a deer tag your two. If you are a trapper, you are likely to have a few sets in the ground, and some die-hard anglers are battling the elements and do some ice-fishing if there is any ice. But, what about the rest of us who are not deer hunters, trappers, or out on the ice fishing?
It might seem like an eternity before spring arrives, and fishing starts up again. It will be here before you know it. It is great to dream of landing your next monster fish, but instead of feeling sorry for yourself, now is the time to look over your fish gear that had a fought a battle or two in the past year.
The fishing rod takes abuse like no other piece of equipment we own as anglers. Throwing heavy lures all day long will take its toll on any rod. Let’s face it, more than once we have casually tossed the rod to the side, or even stepped on it. All this torture adds up. Unfortunately, more than once during the heart of the fishing season, I have reached to grab my favorite rod only to see a missing guide or a broken tip and it is not a good feeling, especially when I had plenty of time in the winter to make repairs.
The first thing to do on any rod is to remove the reel. Clean the reel seat thoroughly as this is an area known gunk built up. With this area clean you can be satisfied that your reel will fit securely. Go over your guide wraps and make sure there are no breaks or frays, check the guides for any cracks or missing ceramics. If you find any problems with your guides, take the rod to a rod shop and have it fixed, or there are good kits available to fix this for the do-it-yourselfer.
The reel takes a lot of abuse, but unfortunately, there is not much an individual can do. With all the tiny parts on the inside of a reel that needs to be greased, this is something I would let a professional do. One thing the reel owner can do is take off the side plate that is normally connected with three screws and grease all the gears and put oil on all the bearings. Pay close attention to the sprawl and pinion. These parts are always working throughout the retrieve as they move back and forth to guide the line back in. It is a good idea to perform regular maintenance on these two parts throughout the season as well.
No matter how well your rod and reels are performing, they will not catch fish by themselves. There is where lures in good working condition come into play.
The first thing to do with your lures is to check the split rings and hooks. Any damaged split rings need to be replaced. Replace any hooks that are rusty or otherwise damaged, or if they have been sharpened one too many times. Check the bucktails and spinnerbaits you have in your box to make certain the wrapping is not frayed. If you come across a problem, apply a small amount of head cement to the wrapping and they will be ready to go. The last thing to do and the most enjoyable for me is to organize my tackle box, and while doing so relive memories of fish the lures have caught for you.
Many good fish have been lost to the inadequate line. Inspect your line for any frays, weak spots, and discoloration. If you come across any bad areas replace it.
Braided lines are capable of lasting for many seasons. Just be sure to clip off a couple of feet and retie before each adventure. Monofilament lines easily lose their strength and needs to be replaced every year. The biggest reason lines become weak is a backlash, however, the sun, grease, and other gunk will negatively affect the life of your line.
Earlier this spring I went on my first trip of the year that would require a landing net. Inspecting the nest, I quickly realized that I had a small hole in the net. It was an easy and quick fix with some small wire ties. Eventually, the net will have to be replaced, but the wire ties got me through the season.
Instead of dreaming of landing that next big bass, catfish, or crappie go ahead and get your gear ready for next spring. When your gear is in tip-top shape, you can get back to dreaming, but only after all your chores are done.