It's that time of year again when the open water starts calling. Time to get the boats and gear out and hit the local lakes, ponds, and rivers. But are you prepared? That's key! You have spent most of the winter cooped up in the house or out on the ice, but have neglected the important items that are going to catch you off guard and keep your days on the water (during one of the most productive times of the year) limited until you get them completed.
Here is a list of items that seem to get neglected until your buddy calls you up and wants you to fishing. But you are caught off guard and not ready to go! These are a few things that you can (and should) do on those rainy days of early spring that will allow you to be on your way and out catching fish. 1. Inspect your rods. This means checking all the guides for nicks, cuts or abrasions. Run a cotton swab thru the guides and if you have cotton catch you know you have an issue. Repair or replace that guide and you won't regret loosing that fish later.
2. Check the reel seats and make sure your reels are in tight and ready for action. Make sure that the threads of the reel seat are not cross threaded or stripped out. This can happen easily when rods are moved around in vehicles and in the boat.
3. Clean the cork on your rods for a better grip. This is easily done with some soapy warm water and a scouring pad.
4. Clean up your reels. This can be as simple as cleaning up all the external dust and dirt, however I recommend taking them apart and removing the old grease and oil and replacing it with new and better grease. Check that you don't have any excessive wear on any parts and if so replace them, especially the drag washers. Just a hint: make sure you have a schematic of your reel handy because when that one spring goes flying across the room, you'll know where it goes in the reel when you are done crawling around the room looking for it.
5. Change the line on all of your spools. You don't necessarily need to remove all your line, just the first 50 to 75 yards and then tie a uni-knot or other style of end-to-end knot and spool on new line. Again, it is a shame to loose a fish to poor line, a mistake that could have easily been avoided.
6. Make sure you have enough of your favorite plastics. There is nothing like getting on the water and having the hot bait only to find out that you only have one or two of them left and the fish are tearing them apart.
7. Along with the plastics, make sure you have enough hooks. This is especially helpful if you are fishing areas with lots of snags like rocks or trees.
8. Sharpen the hooks on all of your baits and if needed, change out any rusty, bent, or bad hooks.
9. Make sure you have an organized system for all of your tackle. This will allow you to pick it up and go and also allow you ease of finding the bait you are looking for, so you don't waste time when you could be fishing. I like the clear plastic divided boxes. These allow me to keep my baits separated and easy to change out boxes of baits for different fishing situations.
10. Make sure your camera is in good working order and your memory card is empty and your batteries are new or charged.
11. Check your raingear! If you don't bring it with you you can guarantee that it will rain and there is nothing like putting on raingear that has holes or needs to have the waterproofing restored and you "forgot" to do it.
12. Make sure if you have one of the new inflatable PFD devices that the cartridge and the operating mechanism is up to date and not going to malfunction when needed.
13. Make sure that your fishing license is current and that your have read the local regulations. Ignorance of the rules is not and excuse that will get you out of a ticket. You should know the rules and abide by them. Remember, regulations change from year to year and you don't want to be caught off guard with a change that you "didn't know about".
These are just a few items that will allow you to get to spend more time on the water and also allow you to enjoy that time on the water. I know some of them seem like common sense, but too often I have seen people changing line right there on the boat or on the shore because they "forgot" to do it prior to going out.
I hope that these quick and easy checks will allow you to better your chances of catching that fish of a lifetime or at least allow you the opportunity to get out and enjoy nature.
Most importantly, take a Kid Fishing!