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Planning for the End

Clean up, clear out, stock up

As you’re putting up your tackle for the winter, replace any worn or rusty hooks on your lures for more strikes and fewer missed fish come spring.
     Yes, there’s fatality in the air. We all know the season is winding down. The bite is hot right now, and there will still be a few good days. But the traditional weather this time of year is increasingly cold with wind and rain followed by more rain, then more wind. Then the holidays will be on us, so it’s not too early to begin tidying up.
      If you’re like me, you’ve used a lot of lures and terminal tackle over the last few months. Now is a good time to take inventory. For one, you’ll find you have more unproductive lures than you do good ones. 
     When I was going through my perch spinner baits, I saw this very imbalance. As I tried to assess my supply of Super Rooster Tail baits, I collected all I could find from the various bags and boxes I had been using.
     I expected to have at least a half-dozen of the Clown Coach Dog pattern, my favorite, plus a healthy count of the chartreuse types and an even better quantity of Captain Bert’s Pounders. I try to have a lot on hand. Big white perch have the habit of sitting tight in wood and stone structures, which takes its share of lures, leading to a lot of snagged lures and break-offs.
     I found very few of those lures, except in colors that had never worked. I am going to have to restock, using the coming holiday sales to minimize the impact on my meager angling budget. 
     If you have any of these safety-pin-type spinner-baits in your tackle box, you’ll find they clean up easily. They hang handily in dishwashers without danger of becoming dislodged. Adding a little Salt-Away to the detergent and running on the quick cycle with a warm air dry can get well-used lures back in A-1 condition.
     I also intend to replace a lot of my lures along with my general tackle boxes. Once upon a time, these containers were transparent. Over time and with wear, they collect dirt and grime, making it ever more difficult to discern what is inside. Fresh, clear boxes will remedy that problem.
     I will run my old boxes through the dishwasher one last time and donate them to one of the angling organizations that distribute donations to young anglers and vets. I will also donate lures that were unproductive for me last season. Perhaps more earnest hands will have more success with them.
     I’m cleaning all my used plugs and lures by dipping them in a solution of Salt-Away, hitting the worst spots with a toothbrush, rinsing with fresh water, then setting them to dry. This will save a lot of grief come spring, for if rust or corrosion has a chance to linger over the colder months, lures can become unusable.
     During earlier months, I encountered a sale on dressed (feathered) and plain treble hooks, size 2 (the most common size on plugs to one ounce) and laid in a good supply. Any treble showing rust now gets replaced from my bag of extras. Follow this advice to get more strikes and far fewer missed fish.
      Sorting the contents of my boxes containing sinkers, hooks, swivels and similar paraphernalia into same-size collections will not only restore some order but also expose any undersupplies. A quick squirt of WD-40 will stabilize and protect these items over the winter so there are no surprises come opening day.
    It may seem premature to start on these chores, but spring will be here sooner than you think. Proper preparation precedes perfect performance. 
 
Fish Finder
    The rockfish bite remains excellent on days that allow a bit of comfort on the water. Perch are deep but hungry and generally in channels at the mouths of the tributaries. Trolling from a heated cabin is the better choice of techniques these days. But those who don’t mind bundling up and jigging over marked schools are getting some nice fish. So are the shore anglers soaking fresh menhaden.
 
Hunting Seasons
Deer, antlered and antlerless, archery, thru Nov. 23
Deer, antlered and antlerless, firearms, 
Nov. 24-Dec. 8
Ducks, limit 6, thru Nov. 23
Migratory Canada geese, limit 2, Nov. 17-23
Snow geese, limit 25, thru Nov. 23 
Sea ducks, limit 5, thru Jan. 11 
Rabbit, limit 4, thru Feb. 28
Squirrel, limit 6, thru Feb. 28
 
Regulations: www.eregulations.com/maryland/hunting