April 27, 2002

The Wait is Almost Over

Frank G. Dwyer
April 27, 2002

The wait is almost over
Frank G. Dwyer

There are many signs that historically signal the end of winter’s death grip on the region. Trees begin to bud, a Robin makes its appearance or, as it is around my house, the sound of tackle maintenance is in the air.

When I began fishing many years ago, I was not aware of the amount of upkeep that my new hobby would require. The upkeep is both a necessity to keep your equipment in good working order, but also is something that can help a northeastern fisherman endure the long stretch between last cast in the Fall and that first cast of the new year in the Spring. (This winter of non-fishing activity is for the most part self-imposed, as I am primarily a saltwater fisherman)

In fact, this fishing thing is quite contagious. What started out as a non-fishing vacation many years ago to the shores of Martha’s Vineyard--and a chance meeting with a bluefish blitz at Wasque on Chappaquiddick--has culminated in a full blown addiction to all things fishing. I certainly could stock a small tackle store with all of the equipment I have accumulated over the years, and this is certainly not a rare trait among fishermen. Most of my fishing friends have a similar amount of equipment, and we all continue to acquire more!

So, it is with great joy that I welcome the days and nights of April that allow me to rummage through my tackle bags and boxes, admire my arsenal of fishing rods and reels, and begin the annual ritual of preparing for the upcoming fishing season. Many of the items listed below can be done at the end of the season, allowing for just a spruce up in the spring. At a high level, here are the major areas of concentration:
Rods- Check guides/ferrules for wear and tear. Nicks can fray your line. Ensure all ferrules are tight and are lined up correctly. Ensure that the reel seat is corrosion free and in good working order. If you have two-piece rods, you should ensure that the top and bottom portions connect easily and securely.

Reels- Reels typically require the most upkeep. Some can be complex, so if you’re unsure on how to take your reel apart or maintain it, visit your local tackle shop. Alternatively, most reels come with detailed diagrams to help you in this endeavor. Nothing gets the heart pumping like a whole table full of small parts that need to be put back together exactly as you found them!
Reel spools should be taken off the reel, and all old line discarded. Reel oil, or some folks use WD-40, should be used on most moving parts after the reel has been washed and rinsed in warm (not hot) soapy water. If you enjoy fly-fishing, these reels also need similar maintenance and care.

Line- I change my line not only at the beginning of the season, but several times during the season. Your mileage will vary, depending on how often you fish, and the conditions you fish under. At the very least, starting the season off with fresh line will hopefully be insurance against having a “the one that got away” story of your very own. In addition, I enjoy tying up several leaders of different size and test for the upcoming season, allowing me to be ready for whatever conditions might come up without having to stop to make up a leader. Fly lines also require cleaning, although typically won’t need to be replaced each year.

Lures- Lures of all varieties also need some primping to prepare for the upcoming season. Hooks should be checked for rust and if need be, replaced. If not rusted, hooks can be sharpened using a stone or a variety of commercially available hook sharpeners. Other lure dressing such as buck-tail, feathers and paint should be checked and spruced up as necessary. Once again, fly fisherman need to check their flies for wear and tear too, and if you’re like me, you’ve been stockpiling your favorite flies after a long winter of fly tying.

That certainly covers the basics, but when in doubt, you can certainly enlist the help of your local tackle shop. (or drop me an email)

Over the coming months, as the fish begin to move once again, I hope to deliver current fishing news and information in a timely and informative manner. It is also my hope that I can deliver other outdoor-centric columns that provide entertainment and conjure up memories of the wonderful experiences we have all had in the great outdoors.

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