by Tim Shamess
As an angler, one of the things I least look forward to
is preparing my fishing rods and tackle for storage over the
long winter to come. Last year I put my gear in the basement and
basically forgot about it. I guess I was hoping there would be
one more fishing trip, unfortunately I had no such luck.
With a soft cloth, lightly clean the line that is in the water the most. I have the space in my yard to hook the line to a pole and then I then walk off the distance of my average cast, plus a little extra line, just to be sure. This may sound extreme, but you will be surprised at the amount of dirt that comes off the line, I am sure it will help preserve the line. To remove any grease and grime, you may want to use a commercially available line cleaner.
Check your reels for any damage that may need repair. With your fishing season over, this is a good time to rake your reels in for repairs. Give your reels a thorough cleaning and good lubrication. You may want to store your reels in plastic bags; the large size Zip-Lock bags are great to keep the dust and dirt off your reels. Don't forget to loosen off the drag; this will relieve any strain on the gears and springs inside your reels.
Give your rods, and especially the handles a good cleaning. Use a mild soap solution, no perfumes in the soap, though. I had a cork handle that for the first of the season smelled like flowers. I may have even been transferring the scent to my line and lures. Don't forget the area behind the reel; dirt always seems to work its way into this area.
Using a Q-tip, clean the eyes of your rods. This is often overlooked, but think about how many times your line passes through the eyes of your rod on only one fishing trip; now multiply that by the entire season! Watch for any cracked or bent eyes; this is the time to replace or repair them. Try not to store your rods by leaning them against the wall; your rods may end up with a permanent bend.
"You should store them straight up and down;" says tournament angler Kevin Laframboise, "Just like fishing line, a rod can also develope a memory." A friend made a fish shaped rack for me as a Christmas present. It is a two piece setup. The handles of my rods sit in holes on the bottom piece; the top piece holds my rods in place in small slots with foam padding to protect from scuffing.
Give your tackle box and lures a thorough cleaning using only water and a little elbow grease. If you need to use soap, keep it very mild and unscented; remember fish use their sense of smell to feed and that fresh, spring fragrance may still be there in the spring. Check for any damaged hooks, swivels, and snap rings; anything rusted should be replaced and all old rusty items beyond repair, discarded.
Your plastics can deteriorate with time and can leave a sticky mess in your tackle box. Keep them stored in Zip-Lock bags. One spring I opened my tackle box, only to find it looking like a bag of hard candies had melted inside; the residue was extremely sticky and hard to remove. Store your tackle box in a dry area where it will not be susceptible to condensation and dirt. Remember that bug spray will turn your plastics to mush faster then it takes to swat a mosquito.
With these few simple steps and you can rest easy. Though the boating season may be coming to an end, you can now turn your attention to the upcoming ice fishing season. Your fishing gear will be ready to go when old man winter releases his grip in the spring.
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