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Curing the Winter Blues:
5 off-season activities to prepare you for spring

By Glenn Walker

 

With another Wisconsin winter ahead of us, many anglers stow away their boats and tackle until they get that spring itch in March.  But there are many things an angler can do to help prepare themselves and their tackle for next years fishing season.  I have outlined my top five off-season activities that will not only keep you busy, but help keep you one step ahead of your competition. 

Activity #1:  Treble trouble
Changing the treble hooks on your crankbaits is one activity that can keep you plenty busy during the winter months.  What I like to do, is first go through all of my baits with treble hooks and determine if any of the baits are not useable anymore.  After that I separate the baits into piles based on if they need new hooks or not.  I am not a big fan on sharpening treble hooks, if I have the time to put a new one on.  That is why I take full advantage of my down time during the winter to put new treble hooks on my baits.  This saves me time from having to change them during next season.  This also gives you the opportunity to upgrade the size of treble hooks on your baits or you can put on a red treble hook on.  When I start looking at my topwater baits, such as Chug Bugs or Pop-R’s, I like to replace the rear hook with a new Eagle Claw dressed treble hook.  These Eagle Claw dressed trebles come in a variety of colors and sizes.  So I urge you to experiment and find a color combination that fits each situation that you may face on the water, my personal favorite is the red treble with dressed in white.  The other item I recommend picking up before you start this project, is a high quality split-ring pliers.  I have gone through several cheap pliers over the years and this past winter purchased a more expensive pair.  Changing out treble hooks has never been easier!!

Activity #2:  Get organized
There is nothing better to help cure the winter blues, then going through all of your tackle and organizing it so when next season comes around you are ready.  When I go through my tackle, I am looking to pull out baits that I no longer use or that are broken.  At this time, I am also able to put together my shopping list.  No only is this fun, but by organizing your tackle you will save time next season when you go to get a bait out of your tackle box.  Everyone has their own way of storing and organizing their tackle.  I prefer to keep my baits in Plano Stowaways that have a specific type of bait, this keeps my baits organized and protected.

Activity #3:  Workout
Being an athlete, I workout and play hockey throughout the winter months.  But the weight lifting and running I do, also prepares me for next fishing season.  There is no need for a complex workout; all you want to do is hit the major areas of your body that get fatigued during the fishing season.  These areas include your back, neck, arms and legs.  Getting a membership to a local health club is the best idea, because they have machines and free weights that will hit each of these muscle groups.  Usually these places also have trainers there that can help develop a workout just for your needs.  In your workout, I would also include some abdominal exercise and of course some running.  This cardio work will help you fight off fatigue when you are fishing in the dog days of summer.

Activity #4:  Research
Now that you have prepared your tackle and your body for next fishing season, it is time to prepare your mind.  I am talking about doing some research, which could constitute you exploring the internet for tournament results from this past year on the bodies of water you will be fishing.  Reading through fishing magazines is another beneficial way to acquire knowledge.  My two favorite ways of “researching” are reading books that not only talk about fishing, but also the mental side of it as well.  One of my personal favorite books is the autobiography of Mike Iaconelli.  I also enjoy doing a little research and development in the winter months.  Tinkering around with baits is a fun way to help pass the time when there is ice on the lakes.  Coming up with new color schemes for you baits or fine tuning a crankbait might just help you put another bass in the boat. 

Activity #5:  Clean and lube
The last off-season activity that will greatly benefit you next season and help keep you from spending more money on fishing tackle is take the time to clean and perform some basic maintenance on your rods and reels.  By spending a couple minutes on each rod and reel, you can greatly increase the life of the product.  I like to start by wiping off the cork handles and the rod blank itself with a warm, wet rag.  A Q-tip works well when it comes time to clean out the guides.  Taking care of your reels is of vital importance, that is why if you feel uncomfortable taking apart your reel, leave it to a professional.  I like to take the general frame of the reel apart, this allows me to clean all the muck and grim off of the reel.  Once I get the reel cleaned, I like to apply some Quantum Hot Sauce oil and grease to the moving parts of my reel.

When the lakes and rivers freeze over and the snow is on the ground, you know have five activities to keep you busy and prepare you for next years fishing season.