How it Works: Gearing Up to Go Fishing

Rule number one: Never leave bait in your tackle box over the winter. The rest of the tips that I’ll share can help you avoid unnecessary expense and aggravation, but opening up your tackle box and finding a rotten squid that’s been decomposing for six months can be life-altering.

Steve Morris, owner of Dick’s Bait & Tackle in Oak Bluffs, recommends that preparation for the fishing season should begin in the fall when you put your gear away. Even if you don’t get around to it till spring, however, the important thing is that you actually do the work – it will pay big dividends once you get your line wet.

Let’s start with your reel: It should be repacked with grease every year because salt, when allowed to sit over time, can wreak havoc with moving parts. You should also make sure your line is in good condition.

“Monofilament line,” Steve explains, “should be stripped off the spool and replaced every year, and depending upon how much fishing you do and how many fish you catch, it should be replaced three or four times throughout the year as well.” And be sure to clean the spool when you have the line stripped.
The new high-tech braided line doesn’t necessarily have to be changed every year – it could last from two to four years – but Steve recommends that you reverse the line every year so that the fresh line at the bottom runs off the top.

As for your rods, you should check all of the guides to make sure they are not chipped or cracked, and it doesn’t hurt to clean the rod off with a little warm soapy water while you’re at it.

The big thing with tackle boxes (aside from rule number one) is that they should never be put away wet, and they should never be stored over the winter in your boat because that’s a sure-fire way to get rust. Steve recommends washing down your tackle with fresh water and hanging it somewhere to dry. If the lures are badly rusted, you’ll definitely want to replace them, but steel wool can usually remove a little corrosion from your shiny metal lures. If need be, you can also take a file and sharpen your hooks.

Waders should be clean and dry and hung up by the boots, preferably in your cellar. “If you just put them in your shed,” Steve explains, “chances are when you go to put your foot in there you’re going to have a foot full of mouse. The mice like to make a nest in waders – especially the neoprene ones.”

In addition to tending to your tackle and gear, if you have a boat, make sure your motor is winterized. It’s also a good idea to have your trailer looked at every year. Have a mechanic take the wheels off, check the brakes if it has them, check the bearings to make sure they’re greased, and make sure the electrical system is working.

So yes, there’s a fair amount of preparation that should be done before you get out on the water – but it’s well worth the effort, especially when you look at the big picture.

“What I tell people,” Steve explains, “is that most of your lures now cost twice what it costs to put line on, so if the line breaks, not only have you lost the fish, you’ve lost the lure. Line is inexpensive, especially in comparison to gas for your boat or even taking the ferry out and back to Chappaquiddick.”
So don’t cheap out on the line. And make sure all of your gear is ready to go – or if you don’t feel like doing it yourself, have someone like Steve do it for you. No one wants to hear your story of “the one that got away."