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An online space for outdoorsmen from CNY and beyond. Tell us about the one you caught or the one that got away.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Get your fishing tackle ready for trout season

Trout season is less than two weeks away. Even though the milder weather is finally taking away some of the snow pack the past week or so, fishing is not really on the minds of most people. But we all know that unpredictable weather at this time of year can quickly change conditions. It is time to get your tackle ready. Besides, it will help the time pass more quickly during this time of limited outdoor activity.
Check your rods to make sure that the guides are not loose or there are no rough spots to wear your line. Pull a scrap of nylon through the guides to check for burrs or rough spots. You can clean any cork handles with some warm water and mild dish detergent.
Reels take a little more attention. Check the bail springs to see that they are tight and that there are no rough spots or nicks on the bail to cause your line to fray. Make sure you have the owners manual to reference the parts and what lubricant to use in the right place.
If there is an accumulation of lots of dirty grease in the gear area, they should be cleaned with a solvent like Quik Scrub III to remove it. Clean them thoroughly and lubricate with a proper lubricant.
Avoid water-displacing lubricants like WD-40 since the chemicals can actually dissolve the protective grease needed. At first the reel may seem to operate smoothly but when the lubricant is gone the parts will be rubbing against each other. Generally you should use grease for parts that mesh like gears and use oil on parts that may rub.
If your reel has an accumulation of grease and dirt and you are not handy at cleaning it and replacing parts, have a professional do it. This is especially true with bait casting reels which are very complex mechanisms. If you are missing screws or have a damaged bail, etc. now is the time to get it taken care of.
Discard all the old monofilament on your reels and spare spools and replace it with new line. Line is the vital connection to you and that fish, so don’t risk having old, brittle line. Monofilament line deteriorates with ultraviolet light, ozone, etc. so it should be replaced at least once a year.
It also becomes stiff and takes a set curl when it becomes wet and exposed to sun so it pays to change line frequently. Many people change their lines two or three times per season. Any line that you purchased last year and is still on the spool, kept in the cellar away from light will be alright to use.
Choice of line can be difficult. Different lines have special qualities such as abrasion resistance, limpness, low visibility, etc. These qualities are often exclusive, i.e. you can’t have one line with all of them. In a separate column we will discuss some of the considerations. You probably have several reels or spare spools for some of the reels, so buying large bulk spools of line can save you money. On the other hand having your local tackle shop fill your reels with line from their bulk winder can save you a lot of time and effort.
Typically in early season we often use salted minnows, salmon eggs or small spinners in addition to worms. Check your supply and make sure that you have enough for a few excursions in early season. Take an inventory of your lures and accessories and take advantage of sales at your favorite local sports shop and stock up before the season opens.  And do me a favor - shop locally. The local sports shops are the ones that support your community with paying taxes, donating to charities, volunteering to coach kids, teams, etc. Whether it is in this area or the shops in the areas you fish or camp, they deserve your support
If the lures have rusty hooks, replace them now. Sharpen all the hooks. A small hone or inexpensive device will quickly put a good point on the hooks. A diamond groove makes it easy to put a sharp point on your hook with just a few strokes.
If some of your spoons are tarnished, clean them up with silver polish or toothpaste. Some lures might need repainting. Make sure that all your plugs have eyes; it really does make a difference.
Take an inventory of all the little tools and accessories. Do you have pliers or hemostats, knife, penlight and similar tools? A few needle threaders come in handy for tying on flies, especially during periods of low light. Clippers, hook sharpeners and polarized sunglasses are essential.
Check waders or hip boots now for leaks and patch or replace them if they are too far gone. Some people use a flashlight inserted in the waders while turning off the room lights to find cracks or holes. A more reliable way is to fill the tub with water, put on your waders and kneel in the tub.
Depending on our specialty such as fly fishing, lake trolling, etc. we all have lots of other gear or supplies that we need to check. But the important thing is to start it now. It will mean that you won’t waste valuable time later when you could be out fishing.
VNSP Events: Vernon National Shooting Preserve will be opening soon as the snow melts. In the meantime some events to put on the calendar include the Ruffed Grouse Society Side by Side Shoot on April 11. Call 240-9996 or see the website for more information. There will be a Hunter Safety Course on Saturday, April 18 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday, April 19 from 9 a.m. until finished. You must pre-register by calling Mike Graham at 750-8415.
Mute Swans: The DEC has revised its management plan on controlling mute swans, an invasive and destructive species. The new plan focuses on protecting wetlands. Swans will be allowed to remain in urban parks and other controlled areas. Essentially the DEC caved in under pressure from “bunny huggers”, animal rights activists like HSUS and the threat of downstate legislators. Their revised goal is focused on minimizing swan impacts rather than eliminating all free flying swans. They can be kept at parks and full consideration will be given to non-lethal techniques of control. You can see the full report on the DEC website and the public can comment until April 24.
Walleye: Although Oneida Lake is better known for numbers than size of walleye, there are occasionally some lunkers taken. Ernie Waterman of Blossvale was ice fishing recently on Oneida Lake when he caught this 9 lb., 28 inch walleye.
NYS Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame: The New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame has selected 12 new inductees for the Hall of Fame for 2015. These will be featured in next week’s column but in the meantime you can see the complete listing at These individuals and other local recipients of special yearly awards will be honored April 25 at the Rusty Rail in Canastota. The public is invited and details will be given in next week’s column.


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