End of Year Reflection on Fishing Season

By Todd Reed

The leaves are now orange and on the ground, another fishing season is coming to an end. While this season is coming to a close another ice fishing season is around the corner. However, as anglers we all need to take a few minutes and think back on our open water season. Reflection is a key to any learning and bettering ourselves. In many jobs this is an annual thing, to stop and reflect, or to get evaluated in the line of work that we do. These reflections and evaluations are designed for us to do better at our jobs, why not use the same process for bettering ourselves as anglers.

This is the time of year to reflect a bit, and in the long run it will make us better anglers. Here are a few things that I take some time with each year before the snow flies.

New Gear
Each year there are dozens of new lures, rods, reels, fishing gadgets, and electronics. As anglers we want every advantage over the fish we can get so we often try new things. If we tried something new, did it work? Do I need to do more research on the lure, rod, reel or some learning videos on electronics? The Internet is your friend, there are a lot of quality videos out there explaining the ins and outs of electronics, lures, rods and reel set-ups, and techniques for catching fish.

The last few times of the year while fishing, I always take inventory of my items. Reflect on the items that you can’t live without, and think about the items that you just don’t use much. I don’t like to wait around until spring to buy baits, hooks, etc. I like to order those things I know I am going to use and can’t fish without in the fall. I like knowing that my tackle will be full come March, when it is time to go fishing again. I do however wait and buy line in the spring, hoping to get a fresh shipment to line all my reels with.

Boat maintenance
If you own a boat it is crucial that some things are taken care of before the winter season. Gas should be treated the last few times out to help your motor last through the winter. Lower unit oil should be drained and replaced each year as well. Check all bilge and livewell pumps to make sure water is drained, compressed air can help with this process. If you have batteries in your boat, keep them charged up periodically throughout the winter, or disconnect and bring them inside out of the elements. These small tasks can save a lot of headaches come spring and sometimes save you A LOT of money as well.

The worst thing you can do with these tools is leave them the way they are. Rods and reels, no matter how new need some attention before next spring. Again, I do not wait around until the spring, I like to put them away knowing that they will be ready to go at any moment come March. All reels should be taken off the rods and the line stripped. (not braid, it can last for several years) All mono and flouro line should be replaced before spring. I strip the reels of the line and give a quick inspection of the reels to see any major wear or damage. Every couple of years or so reels should be cleaned and re-lubed. The many components inside your reels need oil and grease to perform at its maximum ability. Oil and grease will also help make your reels last much longer.

Rods need a little attention at this time too. Check all the eyelets to see if any ceramic pieces have been lost. If so, they need to be replaced. I also take a cotton ball or Q-tip and rub around each eyelet clockwise and counterclockwise to see if there are any nicks or cracks in the eyes. Sometimes they may be so small that you cannot actually see them, but the cotton ball or Q-tip will show you quickly which ones need replacing. I take the time to wipe down the rods with a soapy rag, and rinse them with clean water to get rid of any dirt, grime or dried weeds. If you have cork handles there is one more thing you can do to make that rod look new again. Take a water and baking soda mixture (heavy on the baking soda) and rub it on the cork handles with a brush. An old toothbrush works great. This will get all the grime and dirt off those rod handles and will look new. You will need to rinse with water and let dry. Rods should be stored either straight vertical or straight horizontally for the winter months. Avoid leaning them against a corner with the same bend in them all winter long.

It is best to bring all tackle indoors for the winter and place in a dry area. This will minimize corrosion and keep those hooks shiny and sharp. This is a good time to make sure all those plastic lures are sealed up tight. This will allow them to stay moist, and keep their scent over the winter months.
Fall is a great time to fish for many species, I hate to see it go each year, but reflecting back on the great memories made and few new fishing friends made each year is a good consolation at the end of the year. Also, if you are like me, once all my gear is tucked away appropriately, it is time to focus on ice fishing!