Volume 15, Issue 2 ~ January 11 - January 17, 2007

The Sporting Life
by Dennis Doyle

Cleaning up Can Be Dirty Business

How to manage when your mess catches up with you

Lately I have avoided the basement corner of our home, where my extensive supply of fishing gear has been carefully arrayed this past season. The strategic order of the rods, reels and other tackle has suffered over the past few months as I’ve used it, arranging, rearranging, then finally dropping the stuff in piles.

I’d managed to divert attention from the mess by posting around the house articles asserting that bright, creative people tend to be more disorganized and messy than the more controlled, organizational types, who are also more boring. Since my wife is an artist and of similar bent, this has largely been successful.

But recently I was undone. Our dog Sophie, undoubtedly smelling something irresistible deep in the fishing gear, apparently became disoriented. After missing her for most of the day, we finally located her by following the soft snoring noises coming from behind one of the smaller piles. She had her nose in a wading shoe and a look of ecstasy on her face. But my exposure was complete; I was ordered to clean the mess up.

The rods, reels and boat gear were taken care of in only five or six days. However, the various tackle bags and the many lures that have weathered the season have been another matter. This was a particularly dirty and onerous task. Bits of worm, dried fish parts and unidentified nasty smelling detritus clung everywhere.

Last weekend, when my wife and the kids were to be gone for two days, I took all of my tackle bags, plugs, jigs, flies, spoons, spinners and similar brethren, plus the boxes they are stored in, and began an all-out effort to clean them up by — in a stroke of brilliance — using the dishwasher.

Doing It Yourself

I found the wash cycle with dishwasher soap and the hot water boost inadvisable, as it bleached out the brighter colors in the bucktails and warped some of my more expensive plugs. I also learned to be more careful of some of the soft plastic lures.

At hot water settings, some brands can get really soft, distorting and dropping off the jig heads to the bottom of the dishwasher where they stop up the drain and otherwise glue themselves to the bottom.

Using the regular water rinse cycle, putting the storage boxes in the bottom rack and hanging the lures from the top rack, turned out to work just right. It got all of the salt and crud off the items, although some of the loose hair and feathers clogged the washer drain again.

I use soft-sided carpenter’s bags to store my lure boxes; they’re just the right size and super-tough. However, constant exposure to the spray of brackish water while fishing the Chesapeake lets a lot of salt build up in the fabric, which is not good for anything stored inside.

I placed them in the dishwasher as well and ran them through the regular wash cycle. That seemed to work fine in spite of the dye from the bags tinting the inside of the washer a shade of brown. At least this time it didn’t flood the kitchen.

When the bags had drained, I removed them from the racks, shook them out and put them on the forced-air heating vents around the house to finish drying. Like I said before, it’s a good idea to wait until everyone is out when you do this — and to keep a mop handy.

I also took this opportunity to update my labels. Stored in the tackle bags, only the edges of the lure boxes are visible, so I place a category label on the side of each: poppers, large poppers, chuggers, swimmers, soft jigs, hard jigs, spoons and so on. I recommend this, as it is a real time saver on the water.

Of course always be sure the labels are suitably definitive. It can be embarrassing to have someone ask to borrow an extra of a particularly hot lure, then pull out a labeled box before you can say Wait!

Watching the disbelief in their faces when they discover the soft jigs box actually contains your supply of trail mix bars and jerky is awkward, especially if you’ve been claiming to be out of snacks for the last two days.

Always store snacks, or any otherwise personal items, under a label such as Soap or Cleaner. Fishermen will never look in containers with those labels.

Finally, after two days of solid effort, I managed to get all my lure and tackle bag cleaning done, my labels updated and the gear stowed away in the proper places.

The cleaning service I called will arrive first thing in the morning, and I hope to have the dishwasher repairs completed by Wednesday.

The family will be home tonight, so I have placed small treats inside the front door for their arrival … with a note explaining I have been called away to a fishing show in Delaware.

Fish Are Biting

The summer weather we’ve been experiencing in January has been a boon to perch and pickerel fishing. Both have been better than excellent.

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