Living in Maryland, the lakes freeze over. With frozen water, it doesn’t take long for the walls to start closing in since I can’t get out to fish. It’s not difficult to keep busy with all the stuff going on around here, however, staying focused can be difficult. Since I can’t fish, I want to stay focused on the maintenance of my fishing equipment. Here is what I do each winter season to take my mind off the cold, and prevent getting stuck in the “honey-do” lists. My winter bass fishing equipment maintenance process:
Winter Bass Fishing Equipment Maintenance – Rods, Reels, and Line
I start by wiping down all my fishing rods, making sure to clean and inspect the inserts/guides. I usually use a wet micro-fiber towel to complete this. Soap would help in some spots, but I don’t use soap for fear it could leave a residue and prevent a bite next season.
I keep my reels in good shape by getting them cleaned every couple of years. At the end of each fishing season, I will decide which reels need to go for service. I started doing this a couple of years ago and really like the performance increase a professional cleaning and service provides. I have already dropped off two reels to my local service technician this winter. I suggest picking a highly recommended or trusted technician. Our reels are what makes the experience and can be the difference between a catch of a lifetime and just another fish story of a big one getting away.
I will wipe down the outside of all my reels as the winter goes on. If I am going to put new line on my reels, I will also wipe down the spool. I use a wet micro-fiber cloth only. I won’t put the new line on until it gets closer to the season opener. This elevates possible memory problems. I am also planning on using KVD Line and Lure conditioner to maintain all my lines next season.
I have already purchased new line for the reels. I bought 20 and 30 lb. Sufix Performance Braid, Seaguar Red Label Fluorocarbon in 12 lb., P-Line Fluoroclear in 12 lb. and some Matzuo Co-polymer in 12 lb. I have never used the Matzuo Co-polymer before, and looking forward to trying it out.
Winter Bass Fishing Equipment Maintenance – Tackle
After the rods and reels are clean and ready for the new season, I switch my maintenance efforts to my tackle. I’ve been using Flambeau tackle boxes with the blue moisture absorbing separators for anything with hooks. The separators seem to be working well.
I will clean crankbaits as necessary. For some reason, I get a white film on some of my hard baits. It looks to be mostly black baits like Jitterbugs and such. A little elbow grease and plain water usually does the job. This year, I might try cleaning them with alcohol. Alcohol evaporates, so I don’t have to worry about a bass spooking smell.
I use vinyl bands around the hooks to make it easier to keep the baits separated in my tackle boxes. I will replace all the vinyl bands on the treble hooks because they stretch out over a season of bass fishing. These bands are fantastic for keeping tackle separated in tackle boxes; I might pick up one or two baits instead of six or eight with all the hooks tangled together.
I also check all the hooks for wear, rust, and damage. I replace the hooks as necessary with Trokar or Gamakatsu brands. I have always been happy with the sharpness on Gamakatsu hooks, and Trokar hooks have impressed me over the past couple of years. I adjust the hooks to my liking on frogs, and jigs. My best tip on changing hooks is to use a pair of split ring pliers to keep from breaking fingernails.
Winter Bass Fishing Equipment Maintenance, Final Thoughts
Lastly, I replace the lettering on the tackle boxes. After every season, I always have box labels needing replaced. Rain and bouncing around while traveling will eventually make labels unreadable. I buy the full sheet labels anywhere school supplies are sold. I use my computers software to print them out. Much cheaper than the store-bought tags and can be customized to my needs. After putting a label on my tackle box, I use clear packing tape to waterproof it.
Most of the time, after completing the above, it’s about time to get ready to fish. I start watching YouTube shows on presentations I want to improve. As it starts to warm up, I will go out in the backyard and work on pitching and flipping. Neighbors think I have lost my mind standing on a stool and throwing to targets all over the backyard. I don’t care; they don’t/can’t understand because they don’t fish.
I know most of the lucky southern anglers don’t have the down time above because they can fish year-round. However, many of us northern anglers must wait for March or April for the ice to thaw. We all have some process we go through each winter. Visit the Ultimate Bass Forums and let’s talk about winter preparations and things used to prevent cabin fever.
See you on the water
Kris is also a certified vehicle mechanic and has some great reads about keeping your vehicle and boat trailer up and running smoothly in the UB Garage Blog.