All but the die-hards have called it a season for open water fishing.
All but the die-hards have called it a season for open water fishing. The rods, reels, nets, tackle boxes and other paraphenalia we just can't do without have been relegated to a closet, the cellar, the attic, the garage or, God forbid, the trunk of the car. Where for some anglers they'll remain until next year's opening day.
And when that day arrives, whether it's after an early ice out or the first of trout, that gear will be retreived with moans and groans and self recriminations of those who failed to take the pre-storage steps of caring for that gear.
Let's begin with the rods.
First, remove the reel. That is a searate entity. Rods should be washed with warm water and dish detergent. A soft brush can be used to scrub the cork or foam grips. Eyes should not only be cleaned by checked for nicks that an abrade your line. A piece of cotton is ideal for this purpose. And nick will snag the cotton. Since nearly everyone's rods today have plastic as opposed to metal eyes, nicks can be worked out with sand paper - the finest carried by the hardware store, because you want to remove the nick not add to the problem. When you're finished, always store rods standing up or if horizontal in rod holders.
I'm a strong believer that despite the fact that quality line an be terribly expensive line of reels should be discarded. Evertything from abrasion from obstructions to tempertures to radiation from sunlight can negatively effect fishing lie. And unless you're prepared to check out your line under a microscope you'll not a clue to why your line snapped when you hook that big bass next season. Line is not cheap. Nor are car tires. But both are critical for the job they do.
I take apart my reels. Check them for worn parts. And replace components when necessary. Thoughly wash them inside and outside with warm water and a mild detergent. Then after they are good and dry reoil end regrease them before reassembling them.
They'll be stored without line. New line will go on days before next year's first outing. While modern lines do not have the memory of yesteryear's lines, there is some.
Everything comes out of the tackleboxes. Then its into the shower with a brush and detegent for a good scrubbing and thorough rinsing. (Why the shower? Because good-sized tackle boxes won't fit in the sink.) For canvas tackle carriers it's a good rushing and, if necesasary, a scrubbing.
The comes the toughest job of all: everything that's been in the tackle boxes all season.
Every lure gets a thorough goining over. First, they are thoroughly washed and rinsed. If the paint is chipped, it's touched up. Every hook is checked. First to make sure they securely attached, second to make sure the tines are super sharp. Pull the points of the hook across your fingernail. If they don't scratch the nail, they're not sharp. Every angler should possess one of those little hook honers available at tackle shops.
Plastic tails are checked. And, if necessary, replaced. I do have some of that stuff you spray on which is supposed to recondition the rubber/plastic. But I'm not big fan of it.
After I make sure my tackle boxes and bags are absolutely dry, restock them. container. Everything is in its place, although I'll probably rearrange them a couple of times before next year's first outing.
Don't forget the ancillary gear. Check nets. Clean and examine depth finders. Wash and well rinse bait containers.
If you've got a boat and motor, that's a whole nother ball game.
If you've got a lot of tackle, you may want to spread the chore out over several weekends. And if you've got kids who enjoy fishing, make it a family event.
Meanwhile, as open water anglers are getting their gear cleaned and refurbished and ready for storage, hard water anlgers should be getting out checking out their ice fishing gear. There's no ice yet, but another month or so should see the freeze under way.