It was a typical opening day of fishing season, cold and miserable. But my brothers and I were young, and the anticipation we felt could not be daunted by near freezing weather. Our fishing spot was to be a neighbor’s dock where we had seen several northerns swimming about earlier that spring. We approached the dock with much stealth and caution as to not alarm any fish. But no fish were to be seen. Neither would any unseen fish bite the spoons and various lures we casted to weeds and deeper water.
Like many young anglers I quickly became bored of fruitless casting. For a change of pace I asked my oldest brother if I could try a few casts with his new spinning outfit. He grudgingly complied with my insistance and handed it over. Excitedly I wound up for long cast and really fired it out there. The lure went a long way alright, but the reel handle popped off at the same time and also went into the drink.
Quickly I was informed I could either undress and wade out to get the reel handle or get thrown in. So in my skivies I slid into the near freezing water and felt around for the handle. I can still feel the intense cold numbing sensitive parts of my body. Perhaps the greatest sensation of my life was when my fingers felt the handle in the silt. But needless to say, my fishing for the day was done, and I have never fished without making sure my equiptment was in good working order. Many fishing trips have been ruined by lack of gear maintenance. And now is the time to groom your tackle, check waders for leaks, and other necessities. Here are a few things you can do.
Clean and straighten your tackle box. If you’re like me, when the fish are biting I don’t take the time to carefully store my lures. It isn’t long before the tackle box is a tangled mess of hooks, leaders, and baits. Sort out lures and make a list of favorites you need to replace. Brighten old spoons and spinners with silver polish, touch up plugs with high-gloss enamel or fingernail polish, and sharpen or replace old hooks.
Check your line guides for wear by running the cotton end of a Q-Tip through each one. The cotton fibers will catch on any grooves or worn spots. Wear will appear first on the tip guide and the guide closest to the reel. A worn guide will fray and weaken your line in no time, so replace it if necessary. Disassemble each reel and clean and lubricate each part. Instructions for reel maintenance come with most reels. Inspect each part for wear and replace if necessary. Particularly pay attention to the drag system. Discs and washers sometimes stick together and lock up during the winter.
The next time you get bored with old fishing magazines or watching other people catch fish on TV, try some tackle tinkering. It is fun and a proven cure for cabin fever.
Posted by Jeff Howard on March 28, 2011
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