Do I dare say this without fear of jinxing us! Spring is here!! Officially the first day of spring is March 20th and soon we will all be gloating about seeing our first Robin of the year. There is still a lot of ice out there but from here on out please use extreme caution and make sure the ice is safe or do what I have done and put your ice fishing gear away and get ready for open water. Shake off the winter blues at the Eastern Iowa Sport show, it is this weekend at the UNI Dome and this is a great place to get fired up for the upcoming open water season and see what’s new in boating, fishing equipment, tackle and even score some great deals on all the “must have” goodies.
Then after the show when you’re putting all of the great deals you got away, go through your existing equipment and make sure it’s ready to go. There are a lot of things you can do to help make sure not only your first fishing trip of the season goes smooth but possibly your entire summer. Check all of your hooks and make sure they are not rusty or dull, a sharp hook is often the difference between landing a fish and telling a story about the one that got away, large single hooks are easily sharpened with a hook hone but small single hooks and treble hooks should be replaced since they are hard to sharpen. It’s not only the hooks on skirted lures like Spinnerbaits and jigs that need to be checked but pay close attention to the skirt and the rubber band collar that holds the skirt on, often these bands will dry out and crack then break after the first cast or two. Look all of your tackle over and make sure it is in good condition while you clean and organize your tackle box(s), the more prepared you get now the more time you can spend fishing when you get to the water.
With your tackle in order move on to your reels, these are simple just spin the handle or even make a few casts, if it is not smooth then it should be cleaned and oiled, you can try to do this yourself (not recommended) or take it to a shop like Hank’s on 15th street in Waterloo and let the pro’s handle it. Also on your reels, regardless of what type it is, take a cotton swab and rub the line guide with it if the cotton catches on anything then it needs service before it can nick or cut your line. After your reels are checked out and fixed if necessary it’s time for new line, the more you fish the more often you should change your line but you should at least start the season with fresh line. Having new line put on with a line winding machine at a tackle shop is by far the best and most of the time the most economical way, when you buy a filler spool of line and change it yourself you often end up with left over line that is not enough to re-fill with and it gets thrown away, when a tackle shop fills your reel you only pay for what they put on.
Your rods also need some checking out, sight down the length of the rod and make sure that all of the guides are in line and not bent or twisted, even the smallest miss-alignment will affect your casting distance and accuracy, if there is a problem carefully bend the guide back into position by hand, if this does not work then the guide needs to be replaced. After you have all of your guides in-line, use the same cotton swab you checked your reels with and swab each guide checking them for cracks, nicks or rough spots that could potentially damage your line and cost you the fish of a life time.
Jason Eastman and I will be at the Sports show in the Hank’s Live Bait and Tackle booth all weekend, we would like to meet everyone that reads this column and answer any questions you may have. The first 100 people that bring in the coupon from this paper to one of us at the show will receive a free gift. Until next time keep your lure wet!