Well it’s that time again, if you’re my friends from the south then you’ve probably been fishing for months (that is if you ever stopped). But if you’re like me and the ice is finally starting to come off those lakes then you are ready to get back on the water as soon as possible. But before you go racing out to your local fishin’ hole there are a few things you should keep in mind. We came up with a checklist of things to do before you hit the water this spring.
Let’s start with your boat, there is nothing more crucial than de-winterizing your boat to ensure maximum performance throughout the season. If you did not change the oil at the end of last year then start there. More than likely, water, acids, and other substances have built up from a long summer of use so it is essential you clean them out and start fresh.
Next be sure to inspect your boat for any issues or problems. Check the canvas, vinyl, and hull for any rips, tears, signs of mold, or chips and cracks. Take note of any possible problems and be sure you repair them before you venture out to the water. A good spit shine and polish never hurts either; nothing quite beats a boat that looks straight off the sales floor.
Finally, be sure to test all power switches and electronics in your boat including your outboard and trolling motor. The last thing you need is a power failure in the middle of your day of fishing, a quick simple test of all electronics and power in your boat should give you the confidence and reassurance that you will be all set to go catch the big one.
Now, we’ll focus on your tackle. Start by going through your all your lures, start with hardbaits and anything with treble hooks (Cranks, topwaters, jerkbaits, etc.). Go through each lure and check the hooks to make sure they haven’t rusted, if they have then simply change out the trebles and you’re good to go again. If you notice chipping in paint or the clear coating on your baits a swift touch up with nail polish, permanent marker, or some clear coat may be in order. Once that’s taken care of you may consider organizing your tackle box in a way that’s makes the most sense to you, for example by the depth that the bait runs, lure brand, or even color. It’s all about personal preference and what you feel comfortable with.
Moving on to soft plastics, the same ideas apply, whether you keep your plastics in the bags they came in or you sort them out in stacks make sure you take inventory of what baits you have and what baits you need. Remember that two different colored soft plastics can not touch or sit together for long periods of time because the colors may run together and the next thing you know your white grubs are pink, oops. Also remember that an organized fisherman is a happy fisherman, no one wants to spend twenty minutes digging in their bag looking for one specific plastic worm on the water only to find out it’s in the last place they would look. Again, whether it’s by bait type (stick baits, tubes, grub, trailers, etc), brand, or color it’s important to have a system that helps you easily and quickly find what you’re looking for. Once all of that is taken care of you can bring out your rods and reels.
Rods and Reels
Begin with taking all the reels off your rods. If you have rods with cork grips you may notice a build up of dirt and grime on the cork surface. A thorough scrubbing with a hot, soapy rag should take care of that in almost no time at all. You can work the rag up the rod blank carefully going over the graphite and guides, this should make those rods sparkle just like the day you got them. After you’ve taken care of your rods and done a thorough inspection for cracks in the handles, cork, or guides, or any other defections you can turn to your reels.
Reels can be tricky, it is a necessity to properly oil them before each new season using products such as Quantum Hot Sauce or Ardent Reel Butter, do not just tear apart your reel because odds are you may not get it put back together again or you’ll lose a piece in the process. For baitcasting reels, a drop of reel grease on the level wind, as well as underneath the spool tensioner cap is a great start. If you know how to, or if possible, remove the side plate of the reel and grease the gearing or braking system, although this is not essential. If you don’t know how to take the side off then don’t try, it’s not worth the risk of breaking something.
When it comes to spinning reels it couldn’t be much easier. If you have a front drag reel simply unscrew the cap and remove the spool carefully, while keeping track of all the parts you take off. Wipe down the spool shaft and grease or oil it lightly. Lightly oil the roller gear and remove the handle to add a few drops to oil the knob shaft. For all your reels both baitcasting and spinning, you can spray the outsides lightly with WD-40 and for an extra clean scrub them with an old toothbrush (no toothpaste though). Now before you go getting all excited we still have one more thing left to do. Those reels are going need some line to catch fish and there’s a few tricks that can help you save money and get the most out of your fishing line.
If you fish with braided line then you know all the fantastic benefits of it, but you also know that those benefits don’t come cheap. After a long season of fishing your spool of braid may get to looking a little discolored and weak, but those looks can deceive you. Most likely, only the top 50 yards or so of that line is used leaving up to 100 yards of line that’s still like brand new underneath it. Simply transfer your used braided line from one reel to another and just like that the good line is on top and ready to fish and the old line is on the bottom of the spool. This can extend the lifetime of your line by a season or even more. Remember when fishing with braided line to place a monofilament backing on your reel before spooling the braid. The backing is nothing more than 30 yards of any old mono line you can find lying around. Then instead of tying the braid to the spool you’re tying it to the monofilament which prevents the braid from slipping on the spool and not casting well or bunching up.
Another common mistake made by many anglers is either underspooling or overspooling their reels. When putting on line you want the line to cover up to the point where there is only about an 1/8 inch of the spool left showing. To much line and you will backlash and struggle to cast, not enough line and you may find yourself running out of line on a cast or losing a fish because he took your line out.
At Bad Poncho Outdoors we strive to bring you the best the outdoors has to offer and help you become more successful at whatever you’re doing. Whether you’re fishing the local trout stream or competing in the biggest bass tournament of your life, preparation is key. There is no guarantee doing anything in this article will help you catch more fish but it will help you get the most out of your gear and make you look pretty good doing it. Take care and best of luck on the water this year, maybe we’ll see you out there.