It’s that change-over time of year, the shift from winter season to spring season and with it, the opportunity to re-group, clean out and start new. No matter where you fish or what you fish for your equipment changes and your methods change even if you are targeting the same fish. Taking the time to break down and re-stock will only help you catch more fish and be ready when the first opportunity to catch comes your way.
Hopefully in the off season you’ve had your local dealer or tackle manufacturer service your reels so that they are in top shape for the upcoming season. Keeping your reels clean, properly lubed and the drags in top shape will go a long way towards your success when the bite or the fish you have been chasing is on.
You can never underestimate the timeliness and savvy in replacing your fishing line. Fishing worn or used line from last season is inexcusable and costs so many folks a lot of fish early in the season. Line that has been sitting on the reels in the garage or on the boat for the winter should be changed. Now, don’t go crazy and dump the entire spool. If the line hasn’t seen much action as far as pulling on fish and only has had the first several yards off the spool, just peel off 75 to 100-yards of line and splice on a new “top-shot” of line. The front section, which is the section used the most in and out through the guides and strained when catching fish, can be replaced easily and economically. The Bimini twist is the best connection to enable you to join the two sections of line together. By tying a short Bimini, you create a loop at the end of the line. To connect the line on the spool and the line on the reel, join them loop to loop by placing the loops together and passing one spool through the loops at least twice, preferably four times, after you tie the Bimini’s. If you can’t tie a Bimini twist, you should learn, but in the mean time, tie a spider hitch if you are using line less than 20-pound test. To learn how to tie both of these knots, there are several good sources including the Ande Monofilament Knot Book available from Ande and a great book by Lefty Kreh and Mark Sosin titled “Practical Fishing Knots” that will teach you step by step how to tie the knots you need to fish successfully. Selecting a quality line that has been engineered for the type of fishing you do can help your casting or fish chasing dramatically. For instance you may want to select a line designed to be supple and easy to cast for inshore plug fishing, or a Hi-Vis line for offshore fishing that gives you the ability to see where the fish you are fighting is going as well as be a tell-tale so you know when and where it might jump. Utilizing a spectra or super braid line for no-stretch jigging, bottom fishing or pulling fish out of structure will pay off when you need to work fish around pilings or wrecks. Also check your leader dispenser or inventory and be sure you have enough of what you may need on hand. Always have both mono leader and wire leader handy as the opportunity you may come across might require one or the other or both! A missed opportunity because you have cut yourself short in the tackle department is sure to disappoint you and your crew. We have made great days out of miserably poor fishing days by being able to take advantage of happenstance opportunity. We happened upon something and caught them, because we had the gear.
Clean out the box and restock
I always find swivels, hooks and lead weights in my tackle boxes where they don’t belong. In the heat of the bite when changing lures or tying on a new leader or changing the set-up completely, I’ve been prone to just quickly setting things in a spot where it won’t fall or roll around. So, things end up where they shouldn’t be. By taking the time to empty out my various organizer boxes, I can clean them and sort individual items into their rightful place and re-stock those items that I burned through during the previous season. It’s amazing how quickly hooks and swivels can be depleted when the bite is on. By utilizing the compartmentalized storage boxes such as those made by Plano or Bass Pro Shops, I can keep everything neat and ready. By having several soft sided bags that carry the organizer boxes, I can quickly replace boxes and shift tackle for different types of fishing or trips to other locations than my home fishing area.
Go over the boat
Be sure to check your boat as well. It’s important to be sure that all your safety gear is current, including flares, sound device, PFD’s and other required gear. Go through the boat and make certain that Navigation, anchor , courtesy and even your spreader lights are working properly. It’s very frustrating and dangerous to be caught fighting fish late in the day and then have to run home with only one Nav light or not have the ability to seeyour knots your trying to tie because your overhead spreader or work lights are not working. Lack of use for just several weeks can bind a livewell pump or bilge pump. Remember, these pieces of equipment are asked to run continuously in harsh saltwater conditions. Laying up the boat with salt water in the pumps will increase your chances of a locked up pump. Be sure they are working properly, and that all hose clamps are tight and hoses have no holes or potential weaknesses for a break. Have your local dealer load check your batteries and be sure they are capable of taking a charge and maintaining enough cranking amps to start your engine. Especially after using your electronics and live wells for a day. If you have an onboard charger, be sure it is putting out the correct amperage to charge your batteries. Taking the time to check out your tackle and your ride is a great insurance policy towards your success. Knowing where your equipment and your tackle is and how its been maintained is one less thing to think about when the bite is on.