The Sporting Life
by Dennis Doyle
Anglers Get Ready,
Spring Is Here
There is adventure in the air, and you want to be ready
Spring is the best of times for dedicated anglers, but spring cleaning can be a chore. If you were like me, you may have hesitated putting away your equipment long into December last year, hoping for one final warm spell that never came. So it’s not likely that a good cleaning and lubricating gentled your tackle through the long winter.
Fortunately, today’s gear is the best ever made, and the materials can withstand incredible abuse. Unfortunately, we take durability for granted and neglect our gear to an alarming degree. Now let us make up for our omissions and ready our equipment for the looming season.
First take the reels off and clean them up. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste to get off the more stubborn dirt. Rinse them clean in lukewarm water. Then replace all of the monofilament line.
Generally mono wears out from age, use and exposure to the sun in about two years. Wear can vary depending on the quality of the line, date of original manufacture, frequency of use and how much peak stress the line has experienced; still, two years is a good average. If your line was new at the beginning of last season, its most critical property, knot strength, will begin deteriorating this season. It makes no sense to take chances here. Replace it now.
The best way to renew your line is to have it done at a quality sporting goods store by experienced personnel. This way you will be sure of a number of things: the line will be of recent manufacture; it will be layered evenly under uniform tension by a machine made for this specific purpose; it will be installed without twist; and it will be at the proper level on your spool for best performance. Best of all, the job is not expensive. An average price is just three to four cents a yard, and that includes removing and recycling your old line.
If you are a fly fisherman, clean your fly line and always discard last year’s leader. If it’s attached with a nail knot, remove the last three inches of fly line as well. Integral loops formed in the end of the fly line should be examined closely for cracks and abrasions. If your nail knot skills are in doubt, a good sport store will bend a new leader onto your fly line with a well-tied nail knot at no extra cost and can also replace that integral line loop if it is suspect.
Leader knots and line loops are critical points in fly tackle. They take a lot of stress and will wear out. Some leaders come with a best if used by caution on their packages; others have a manufacturer’s date. Do not keep them more than a few months after their use-by date or 3 years after the manufacturer’s date. Even unused leaders in their original packaging will deteriorate over less time than you think. Don’t try to get another season out of them unless you enjoy losing big fish.
This is also an excellent time to clean your rods. Get the toothbrush and toothpaste back out. Carefully scrub each guide down to the base until all traces of dirt, salt and water scum are removed. You can rub the toothpaste on rod shanks as well to clean them. Make sure roller guides are rolling. Very carefully inspect ceramic guides for chips or hairline cracks. If you find a defective g
Fish Are Biting
The recent chill has slowed the white perch and shad runs. Yellow perch are still showing up, sometimes in good numbers, though it is late for them and many fish have already spawned out. Rockfish continue to be hooked (and released) at the Susquehanna Flats, Sandy Point and Matapeake, but the numbers have dropped with the temperature. Rockfish trophy season begins April 15.
uide or a missing ceramic ring, have them replaced. They will shred your line in minutes under the pressure of a good fish.
If you have a multiple-piece rod, dress the male ferrules with the stub of a candle. The waxed ferrules won’t stick together, won’t wear and won’t come apart while fishing. Scrub the rods’ reel-seats until they are clean, the reel hood slides easily and the locking rings move freely.
Heavy duty marine silicone spray is an excellent lubricant and preservative for rods and reels. It won’t harm fishing line, and you can spray it on all your reels, guides and reel seats without worry. Wipe off the excess with a soft towel. If you prefer to use a petroleum-based grease or oil on your gear, do not get it on the line. Fish don’t like the smell, and many oils will degrade monofilament.
Once you’ve accomplished these tasks, you’re almost there. Now get the rest of your gear cleaned up, sorted out and ready. Spring is here. There is adventure in the air, and you want to be ready.