By Josh Boyd
The latter half of winter tends to be a time filled with rapidly building anticipation for the die-hard angler. After several months of frigid temperatures, blistering winds, and often icy conditions, those that love nothing more than to be on the water begin to count down to the spring thaw like a child awaiting the arrival of Christmas.
However, there is only one thing that has the potential to be more frustrating than waiting for a spring that seems to never come, and that is having the year’s inaugural fishing trip ruined by overlooked equipment woes.
As the spring sits poised on the horizon, there has never been a better time than now to prepare your gear for the months of warm weather and eventful fishing to come. The following are a few items of consideration that, when seen to accordingly, can save you much heartbreak and wasted time as both the weather and fishing action begin to heat up.
Give Your Rod And Reels A Physical
Few things are more aggravating than finally hooking into the bass of your dreams, only to be reminded that the line on your reel is as old as your eldest child, as it snaps less than five seconds into the fight.
With your rod, reel, and line being the only thing between you, and the fish that you are attempting to boat, there is no good time to experience equipment failures. In this case, the best way to minimize equipment woes is to prevent their occurrence in the first place.
Now is the time to inspect your rod and reels for any defects, and to ensure their functionality. The truth is, no matter how careful we are, our rods and reels still live difficult lives. Between being in and out of truck beds and boats, inadvertently knocked over or dropped, and repeatedly distorted when wrestling fish from the depths, our gear takes a beating.
By conducting these inspections, issues such as rod cracks and splintering, broken or bent rod eyes, and loose or damaged reel components can be caught before such issues progress any further.
It is also wise to place a fairly heavy sinker at the end of your line, and cast across your backyard, feeling for any hang-up or line kinking along the way. This can often uncover line issues that would have otherwise went undetected until your first cast of spring.
Additionally, when in doubt, change your line out. Although fishing line does indeed cost money, it is not nearly as expensive as the fuel in your truck and boat that will be wasted, when being forced to return home dejectedly, after a day of fighting a tangled mess of line.
Restock The Tackle Box
Now is the time to make a grocery list, and I am not talking about the one that includes toilet paper, soap, and ingredients for next week’s dinners. It is time to take stock of what is, and is not present in your tackle box.
The definition of fishing frustration is reaching into your tackle box for your favorite crankbait, only to remember that you donated it to a troublesome brush pile during the last trip of the previous fall. A quick once over of your tackle box can prevent this subtle aggravation.
By jotting down the particulars of what needs to be purchased, you can avoid a forgetful moment when browsing through your local tackle shop in search of the specifics you came to seek. These notes will also help you keep track of details regarding sinker and hook sizes, as well as quantities needed.
Make A Boating List
It seems as if during the first outing of every spring, something will either be forgotten at home, or you will spend excessive amounts of time searching for a last-minute necessity as you attempt to leave for the lake in a timely manner.
By making both a boat and bank fishing checklist before spring’s arrival, you reduce the odds of being faced with such a dilemma. Make a mock run as if you were preparing your gear for an outing. Now write down all the gear that you gathered when completing this task.
You can then keep the list that you have compiled and review it over the course of the next couple of days, taking stock of anything that you might have forgotten. Any additional items can then be notated to form a more comprehensive list.
Once you are satisfied that your gear list is complete, a document can be typed up and printed off in the form of a checklist. This checklist can then be laminated at any number of package and shipping or office supply stores.
With a laminated checklist in hand, you can now check off all items on the list with a dry-erase marker before every outing. When your checklist has been completed, simply wipe it clean and store it in a dry box on your boat or in your truck for use at a later date.
Give Your Boat A Clean Bill Of Health
No one wants to be the guy at the boat ramp who cannot coax his or her engine into running when attempting to launch. This is never a fun position to be in, but to be honest we have all probably been there.
This is just one of the many reasons that now is the time to begin conducting functional tests on your boat in preparation for the spring to come. An afternoon spent giving your boat a once over can easily save you from a long list of issues that can quickly spiral out of hand once on the water.
At the very least, it is advisable to ensure that your boat’s engine will start and run as it should, check all trailer and boat lights for functionality, check and grease trailer hubs, and ensure that additional electrical items such as bilge pumps are in proper working order.
You should also check to make sure that all safety items such as a fire extinguisher and life jackets are present and in satisfactory condition. Not only does law mandate these items, but they could also save your life, should the unexpected take place.
Preparation Is Key
Don’t let a lack of preparation hinder this spring’s first fishing trip. Instead, spend a couple of afternoons going through your gear and readying it for the days ahead. As you boat fish after fish, with a smile adorning your face, you will surely be glad that you went the extra mile.