"Consideratons For A New Season"
by Daniel Kiazyk
Well here we go again into a new season….fishing season here in Manitoba that is. For many of us fanatics here in the keystone province that brings to bear a whole "new" set of considerations that will be undertaken for another angling year. The considerations include the most obvious but also the most experimental of musings that we may have thought through since shutting down last Fall. There are, however, a few basic considerations that anyone can undertake to make this an even better angling year.
Initially I like to think of opener in a very broad manner, thinking of it as a new beginning. Many of last year's triumphs and failures are exactly that….last year's fodder. As for the new year I like to think of fishing as being fairly unique in so far as it allows us to start anew each year. The newness is a key factor as it considers what were the causes of certain failures and successes. Having this new start means an effort is expended on focussing and building on the success and reducing those circumstances where failure was the result of certain efforts. I generally start with the basics when starting up in a new season. How's my line? What condition are poles/reels in and is there any need for repair or replacement? Repair is a first consideration as it allows you to maintain a relationship with equipment that you've become familiar with. That familiarity means know what are the weaknesses or strengths of the equipment being used. In the case of new equipment being used I'm always prepared for a new learning curve….a part of which includes some disappointment that'll be new….
As for replacement there are some aspects of my essential gear that necessarily should include a fairly rigorous consideration for replacement. Line is perhaps the most important component of my gear that gets looked at, at the beginning of the season. Line may not need to be changed. In cases where line was changed a month before being put away there may not be such a necessity. However certain types of line can be impacted quite negatively if stored in conditions that facilitate their demise. Certain types of mono-filament are adversely impacted by water and long term storage. The actual material that some monos are constructed of absorb water and create the possibility if stored in certain (conditions eg. Freezing garages, moldy damp basements) where the line's integrity may be compromised. Polyethylene based lines are closed cell structures that do not absorb water but are adversely impacted by ultra-violet radiation. Too much exposure to sunlight will negatively impact these types of line. Flurocarbon lines tend to have a memory and may cause some troubles where they have been stored for long periods of time.
In my experience the only way to be sure of your line will be too do a strength test by hand at different intervals. If the line breaks to easily when tugged it's probably time to go. The other sure fire indicator will be when you'll tie a knot. If the line go easily after a knot is tied you've got an excellent case for replacement. The other thing to consider is if there are nicks or frayed spots as you do a visual inspection. If a line's first twenty feet needs to be cut it might present you with line that's in better shape and able to give more useful service. Another option for polyethylene lises is to respool the line from one reel onto another reel. In the process the good line down under re-surfaces to probably give you perhaps another year of service.
The rod itself is an often a neglected piece of equipment. Firstly it should be verified if the rod seat and the connecting mechanism is in good condition. I just hate it when a reel goes flying from its seat without warning…. And you're fighting a trophy fish. Very often the problem is the tightening mechanism coming loose/or failing without you being aware that that has happened. Sometimes it helps to secure the locking mechanism with a piece of tape are even a dab of Loctite where applicable.
Next on a rod review I'll look at the line guides, especially where ceramic guides are involved. A chipped or cracked guide could potentially cost the loss of a big fish. I've found that cotton batten will often reveal an invisible crack as its fibres are small enough to catch on such any such crack that may appear in a ceramic rod guide. If the rod is worthy of a new guide such a repair is possible or perhaps replacement of the whole pole may be required.
Finally I'll make a visual inspection of the gel-coat covering the rod blank. In certain circumstances I'll take note of abrasions and cracks and consider whether or not a rod should be put into service. In the case of a 7'6" rod that my wife used one year on lake Manitoba the decision to continue with a rod's use resulted in one of our most memorable fishing stories taking place. The rod in this case had a considerable abrasion about a foot and a half from the reel seat. I believe that a bit of Flecto 96 (in some cases I'll just use clear nail polish) was used to seal the considerable number of cracks/abrasions in the blank. Well, such a repair in most cases is only superficial and in general is not enough to hold the rod back from exploding when a 32" giant walleye pulls back once the wife sets the hook. The resultant explosion was reminiscent of a .22 rifle's crack when fired. How did we land that fish….with a lot of excitement to say the least!
Reels too are often in need of some TLC come opener. It seems as though the number of failures that may occur in the spring when fishing will often be related to drag failure. Having sat for at least five or six months the lubrication that is so essential for a dependable drag will be compromised. I'll often go through the process of degreasing an re-applying a lubricant to various components of the drag system of my reels. In particular it is important to consider the type of drag that a reel might employ and would be in need of fresh lubricant. Be sure as well in your process of inspecting a reel to tighten all nuts, screws and other such fixtures. Reviewing this process could go into quite a bit of detail but as there are some many reels with different designs that there are only generalizations that can be suggested here for the purposes of this article.
You'll probably notice to this point nothing has been mentioned about tackle. Obviously it has been avoided as it can truly present the angler looking to set out a process for renewal that is more like opening "pandora's box". My overall suggestion that I would make at this point would be to seek out the 3R's for a first round of tackle box organization; RUST, ROT, REPLACEMENT are what I'll pre-occupy myself with at the beginning of every season when it come to tackle box maintenance. Secondly, and this has been an on-going effort of the past five years or so, I'll turn my attention to bags and their tackle trays that apply to either a species/fishery that will be fished over the next couple of months. In general, where my tackle is concerned, there is a flux of what goes where and why depending upon the requests made by guests and fisheries that we'll be visiting. Having these bags ready to go in advance means that I can concentrate on other fish related aspects of a fishing day. Do I have enough variety to at least try four methods to catch a particular species. If I can answer this affirmatively I can honestly say the tackle is ready to go..
Of course safety always pops into mind when making considerations for a new season. Safety is not only the life vest required when out on the water (and which btw has become so comfortable that it can be worn anytime you're "around" water) but safety includes items that will protect your eyes from UV rays and flying hooks as well as sun block of an SPF of at least 30. The latter two safety items are of considerable significance and should form a part of your fishing preparations anytime you're out on the water.
Other so called "safety" items (for a lack of a better place to include them as a part of this discussion) could also include appropriate clothing/footwear that can help you avoid hypothermia and other instances of imminent danger ( a hook on the floor of the boat can puncture a shoe if you're not careful). Things such as a survival kit and some foodstuffs stowed away are good ideas to be included as a part of your regular day and they could truly save the day in case of emergency.
Finally, and this one is not commonly packed on a boat trip, an emergency first aid kit can also be indispensable if not convenient on many fishing trips. Having bought a few over the years it may also be necessary to freshen some of the kit's contents or even include some components that you normally would require for your personal well being…..Tylenol can be a trip saver if available and your head is a pounding!
Nothing has been mentioned about your means of conveyance (road and water-wise) to this transportation based sport ….and I'll probably leave you to digging around this website to read what I've written on the subject. Leave it without saying to much that a boat that doesn't move out or a trailer that breaks down can make a great day go bad.
So…. getting going in the Spring of the year is always a period of anticipation and planning. We can, if we think on this, make an effort to re-start our efforts every year. In the process of re-starting we can improve or make new discoveries that will take us to the next level. Without a doubt there are very few sports that have such an opportunity for its participants to start over in a whole new season.. I know I'm not ready yet but with a little effort it definitely looks like it'll be a great season ;-()