It’s April so you know what that means…Spring is here. Which also means, for a lot of anglers and states, the open water fishing season is right around the corner. I know some people have been finding fishable open water for several months here in certain parts of Colorado but for most locations in the Ice Belt the open water season will really take off in the coming month. This is the time of year where anglers develop what is known as “Cabin Fever” and they start dreaming of long rods, fishing from a boat, and casting lures – all the while catching some sun. My way of coping with Cabin Fever, other than fishing, is by organizing and preparing for the upcoming season. So Today I tell you How to prepare for upcoming fishing season?
I do this in several different ways but here is my general checklist:
prepare for Upcoming fishing season
1.) Check Lures/Baits
Go through your tackle boxes and inspect your baits and lures. For me this is best done by emptying out each box individually. Hooks can get dull throughout the season so have a file on hand to sharpen them. If the hooks are rusty or bent, replace those hooks – this can give old baits some new life. If painted lures are chipped or worn, hit them with some permanent marker or hobby paint to dress them up a bit.
2.) Tackle Box Clean Out
While you have your tackle boxes out and empty, clean them out with a little soap and water to remove any rust stains. These deposits will leech onto your baits and hooks. If the rust stains are so bad that they can’t be removed, I would consider buying a new tackle box.
3.) Take Inventory
There is no better time to take a quick inventory or snapshot of what types of baits you have, what colors you have, which brand(s) you have, etc. By doing this, you can then quickly realize what you need for the upcoming season – whether it’s a certain color, or brand, or type. Clear out any baits that don’t produce for you or fit your current fishing style. This is also my favorite time to buy new baits because spring is when a lot of major manufacturing companies release their latest and greatest. Coinciding with that a lot of tackle retailers are cleaning out their inventory and making room on their shelves for the new season and its products, most retailers are offering some type of spring sale as well.
4.) Check Line Quality
This is the best time to inspect the quality of the line on your reels. Depending on how frequently you fish this might be the perfect time to remove all old line and spool up with new line. If the line has been on your reel for over 2 years, I would advise you to change it out for fresh line. The exception to this is braided line. Sometimes I have to replace this every year but other times it will last me up to 3 seasons. Inspect your line for knicks, abrasion, and dry rot. A tip that I can offer to lengthen the life of your braided line and your investment is to reverse it on the spool after a season. Since the only part that starts to deteriorate is the part that consistently sees the water, I will cut off a 10-20ft section of the line that is faded and less compact, then I will tie that onto an empty reel (or any other place holder), spool it up, and then re-spool it back onto the initial reel. This will now put the unused line, which was never seeing the water, on the outside of your spool.
5.) Reel Maintenance
Your spinning or baitcasting reel is basically the motor of your fishing setup. With that being said, it needs to be maintained or it can stop working on you – sometimes at the most inopportune times. I have a good grasp on how fishing reels work but I’m not confident enough to take a reel completely apart. Without fully dissembling a reel, there is still some basic maintenance that can be done by the average angler that will help lengthen your reel and maximize its performance. The first step I take is cleaning the exterior and working parts with rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, and paper towels. This will get rid of all the dirt, grime, extra oil & grease, and salt. The next step is oiling the bearings and greasing the gears (both of these can be had for free from most reel manufacturers). Simple and quick maintenance like this will help keep your reels functioning for many seasons of use.
6.) Rod Maintenance
Rods don’t need much maintenance but spring is a good time to check the guides and their wrapping. If the guide wrapping is looking a little worn, coat with some epoxy or clear nail polish. Make sure the guides don’t have any knicks or cuts in them because this will wear down and possibly cut your line. If the guides do have cuts think about replacing them. To replace the problem guide, get a spool of nylon rod wrapping thread and a replacement guide from a tackle shop. There are free instructional booklets, videos, and internet aide which can help with the guide replacement. If you’re a fishing guide or captain and want to have clean rods for your clients to use – a little all-purpose cleaner and a towel will take the dirt, grime, and discoloration right off your cork handles. You can then take that same towel and run it up and down the rod blank to make your rod shiny again.
Some of these tips might seem obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen anglers in the spring fiddling and working with their gear, lines, or lures while on the water. Take the headache out of this so you can focus on the fishing itself. Go into the open water season prepared and ready for action with some simple spring time maintenance.