By the third quarter of this week’s big Championship Bowl game, I was bored. Heck, I like watching a good defensive battle, but this one was soooo lopsided, I lost interest and started thinking about the constructive things I could have been doing.
It didn’t take very long to come up with a mental To-Do list because it’s the same one I begin checking off every January to get ready for open-water fishing. I just don’t typically start on it until Bowl Season is completely over.
There’s a long stretch of down time, usually between mid November and early April, for those of us who live in the top third of the country, and I use the time to get things prepared so I’m not bogged down by a lot of details when it’s time to go fishing. Plus, it gives me something productive to do so I don’t have to feel guilty about parking in front of the Tube watching fishing shows, the NFL playoffs or MythBusters.
To start things off, I fill in my fishing calendar. Up till now they’ve been the inexpensive type you can pick up at any drug store, but this year I’m planning to use my e-tablet.
First I note all full and new moons, including the three days before and after, for the obvious reasons. Then, I write in all fishing trips I know about, whether they’re locked in and booked, or in the planning stage. Later on, I make notes on things like accommodation confirmations, whether my fishing partners have committed to the trip etc. It’s a good way to manage details.
I also note special days—birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, baptisms—so I don’t overlap a fishing trip (Either that, or know in advance that I’ll have to do some fast talking).
If you fish tournaments, put those dates on your calendar, along with tickler dates for registration deadlines and practice dates. By the way, both the North American Bass Circuit and Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit recently announced their 2012 schedules and are taking registrations now.
Respool, Respool, Respool
I like to start the year with new line on all my reels. Using fresh, strong line is critical, I know that. But the fact is—I hate spooling new line. No, I loathe it. Consequently, I empty and fill two or three reels per session to keep the anguish levels manageable.
Depending on how often and where they’re used, and whether they’re filled with mono, fluoro or braid, I know there will be a few reels I’ll need to respool every week or so, even fewer that I won’t have to refill until next year, and a bigger handful that I’ll probably have to respool once, twice or maybe three times during the season. But at least to begin with, I know they’ll all be ready to go when I am.
If this has inspired you to refresh your lines, here are a couple of good videos in which NAFC Executive Director Steve Pennaz and Online Editor Jim Edlund outline the process to avoid loops and line-twist while respooling a baitcaster and a spinning reel.
Terminal Tackle Inventory
While I find spooling reels tedious, organizing tackle boxes is fun, and gets my blood pumping in anticipation of the year’s first cast. I typically arrange tackle trays so they’re species specific, which allows me to quickly stuff three or four trays into a soft-side bag for the day.
More important that sorting lures by style, size and color, though, is ensuring I’ve replenished my “consumables” (hooks, sinkers, split rings, snaps, swivels and floats). As a multi-species angler, I’ll use various sizes of Aberdeen, octopus, Kahle, circle and worm hooks over the course of the year, as well as split shot, drop-shot, bullet, egg, walking and flat river weights in a multitude of sizes. Nothing’s more frustrating than not finding the particular piece of terminal tackle I need, so I make sure all those bases are covered beforehand.
Finally, I inspect hardbaits and sharpen or replace hooks as needed, clean and lube reels and check fishing rods for damage. And that usually takes me right up to ice-out.
Like me, you might have many long winter evenings at your disposal, or just a few short weeks—maybe even just days—of down time. The question is: How do you pass the time in-between time?-- Kurt