As we muddle through one of the toughest winters in recent years, anglers can keep their spirits up by giving their fishing tackle the work over it deserves. Don’t fret those days or precious weekends when it is too cold and nasty to spend much time outside alongside a brackish tidal creek, farm pond or deep river bend. Break out the fishing tackle and get it cleaned, lubricated and ready for those early spring fishing trips that are just around the corner. Yellow perch (aka yellow Neds) chain pickerel, big blue catfish or channel cats await you but only if both you and your fishing gear are ready.
Talk over your ideas for the first fishing trips of the season with your fishing buddies or family members as you get the tackle in order. Those ideas could spawn a great first fishing trip of the season.
Unless you are rinsing off your rod and reels with fresh water after each fishing trip, the time to give them a good wash down is now. Warm water and a mild dish washing detergent coupled with a cleaning pad that will not scuff or scratch your reel or nick the line is a good combination.
After the cleanup, we like to strip off about 30 to 40 feet of old line and discard it at a monofilament recycling center. (Ask your local bait and tackle dealer if they accept and collect discarded fishing line.) Check the first 30 or 40 feet of new line for nicks, cuts and weak spots and remove bad line as necessary. This is also a good time to completely change line if you determined over the 2010 fishing season that what you used was too heavy or too light a line test. All fishing reels require oiling or lubrication and to do it with ease and properly, you need to refer to the instructions that came with the reel. Can’t find it? Try googling the website that the reel manufacturer has on the internet. Most of the lubrication or oiling points are obvious and on the newer reels, easy to access.
Fishing rods need a good cleaning and look over during the off season. Eyes can become loose, broken or are gone. Some have their own way of fastening rod eyes. Many will take their fishing rods to an experienced dealing for repairs. For us there is nothing worse than having threading or the eyes themselves come unwound during a day of fishing.
Replacing lost or broken terminal tackle from the 2010 season is a priority. By taking note now of what you need, you can take the time to shop the off season bargains for snap swivels, hooks, sinkers, lures, leader and trailer baits. This is also a time to consider adding to or replacing traditional tackle box arrangements. Smaller, efficient clear boxes with compartments sized to hold hooks, lures, sinkers and snap swivels make for easier and visual searches during the fishing season.
Yellow and white perch fishing area among the early season harbingers for us to enjoy. Famous brackish headwater tributaries such as Allen’s Fresh or the upper Patuxent River are good areas to plan fishing trips to as soon as weather allows next month. Fishing from a small but seaworthy trailerable boat allows you to quietly maneuver into the many backwater tributaries where you can look for downed trees or other shore side structure that attracts these species.
These are also popular waterways for shore fishing, but be alert to any posted signage that indicates whether you are trespassing or not. Information on the recreational fishing seasons in Maryland can be found at, www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries.
By Steve and Chelly Scala