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It’s the little things In fishing By Gary Howey

  With 68-degree temperatures predicted the week I’m writing this column, I’m in the mood to get ready for spring fishing.

  Last spring, I was in such a hurry to get out and do some summer fishing, I threw things into my tackle bag and didn’t think about re-organizing it. Unfortunately, I did the same thing with my fall fishing gear and now my tackle bag looks as if a bomb went off in it. My walleye spinners are intertwined with my live bait rigs and my jigs and crankbaits stuck together.

  Most of the time, I’m Mister organized, but not this time of the year as everything is in turmoil and I have to get things straightened out before the water opens up.

  All of my Plano 3700 tackle boxes in my walleye tackle bag are lettered; jigs, live bait rigs, crankbaits and bottom bouncers, so I know where this gob of tackle that’s stuck together should go.

  The first thing I’ll need to do, because it takes the longest is to untangle my live bait rigs from the spinners. This is a real pain, especially now that most of my tackle is tied with lighter line and my eyes aren’t as good as they used to be.

  I went to lighter line on these to eliminate the coils or memory that I had with the heavier line. With the heavier line, the spinners and rigs didn’t lay out as smooth or run through the water straight, so by going to lighter line, my line has less memory.

  Once I have them untangled, I’ll coil them, put them in small Ziploc bags which allows me to see what’s there and return them to my livebait tackle box. It may take a little extra time, but worth it when I hit the water this spring.

  Next, I’ll work on my jigs, the ones that were not only tangled with my other baits, the ones that were wet when I threw them into my bag.

  It doesn’t take much to clean them off; all that’s needed to clean them is to wipe them off with a clean rag. On jigs, the first thing you’ll want to do is to remove any hardened bait; minnows, pieces of crawlers etc. that wasn’t removed before you tossed them into your tackle bag. If you were using Berkley Gulp, it may take a sharp knife to cut through it, as Gulp will become rock hard if not returned to its original airtight container.

  The main thing you need to pay attention to before putting them away is the hook; you want to make sure it’s sharp. To check it for sharpness take the hook and run it across your fingernail, if it’s sharp, it should scratch the nail.  If they don’t, grab your file or diamond hone and sharpen them until they do.

  With crankbaits, you’re going to have to wipe them down, get the crud off them and then check the treble hooks, when crankbaits snag, the treble hook is the culprit and to get them loose requires a lot of pressure, which can bend or disfigure your treble hook. Check them to make sure they’re straight and if not, straighten them using needle nose pliers. You shouldn’t need much pressure to bring the hook back in line but, if the hook has become rusted, it may break off when you straighten it. If it does, it’s not a problem, as replacement treble hooks are easy to find. Now you’ll want to check to see if the treble hooks are sharp and if not, sharpen them as was mentioned previously in this column.

  This time of the year, when there isn’t a whole lot to do in the outdoors it’s a good time to get your tackle cleaned up and if your tackle boxes inside your bag identified, as it makes it easier for you to find what you need on the next trip. [Read more…]


It is Time to Re-clean, Re-spool and Re-place By Gary Howey

It is those dark months of the year, January and February, where nighttime seems long and daylight hours are short. This is the time of the year when I have ice fishing or predator calling on my mind, not so much this year.

The ice fishing has been slow, partly because of the warmer weather had not made thick enough ice and then the freezing temperatures and gusty wind keep me in my office as well as out of the field where I could be calling predators.

When things slow, it is time of the year when I Re-Clean Re-Spool and Re-Place things in my tackle bags.

Once winter set in, and before ice fishing took off, I pulled all of my ice fishing gear out of storage, cleaned out my sled, buckets and tackle bags. I started by throwing away the empty wax worm containers, old line and Styrofoam cups which had collected in my sled. Once these things were discarded, I changed the line on my reels and added some new lures, added new lures, then replaced worn out and rusted hooks on other lures. One thing I have noticed over the years when ice fishing that seems to help me to hook more fish is to replace the treble hooks on lures with single hooks. When a cold-water fish clamps down on a single hook, he does not feel the three hard hooks and spits out your bait. With a single hook the fish will grab your bait, put pressure on your minnow or grub and hold onto it longer, giving you extra time to hook them.

After I finished with that chore, it was time for me to pull out my open water tackle and get it ready for spring fishing.

This week, I started replacing the line on my open water gear, my bottom bouncer, livebait rigging and jigging reels.

Tomorrow, I will tear all the old line off my catfishing rigs, replacing it with the heavier test line required for the size of the cats we hope to catch and the snag-infested waters these big bruisers call home. [Read more…]