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Getting Organized for the Season
 By John Campbell

With winter in full swing and the Sportshow season underway it is important for anglers to start thinking about getting organized for the season.  This is the time of year to look over all your equipment and replace or repair fishing tools for the upcoming season.  One of the first places that I begin to organize is my tackle box.
Tackle boxes come in all sizes and shapes for a variety of needs and provide function with stylish design. Flambeau has come up with soft box designs that allow you to add more or exchange the boxes.  When I am fishing for crappies I want to take maybe two boxes of jigs, but I surely don’t want to take along all my crankbaits especially my musky ones.  I then can slide out my box that has all the crankbaits and put in my boxes that have all the crappie jigs.  While fishing for walleyes I can take along a jig box that has all sizes and colors neatly organized in their proper place.  I might also decided to take along two crankbait boxes and a box that has all my Lindy Rigs, spinners and No Snagg weights for those finicky walleyes.
 These smaller clear finished boxes make the identification of their contents easy and quick when I have to select in a hurry.  They also make sense in the aspect that I don’t have to have that old box like my dad’s.  You know the one I am talking about.  It weighed about fifty pounds and when you opened it, it grew with length and different levels so it took up the entire length of the floor between the seats.  All the tackle that dad and I had purchased over the years was contain in that box.  Some of the tackle was in need of repair, but it still had a place in the box next to all the other tackle that was housed there.  
Getting ready for this fishing season spend some time going through your tackle box and maybe it is a good time to get a new box.  Check all the compartments and remove all the lures and set them aside so you can wipe out the box itself and let it dry.  Don’t use chemicals or industrial cleans, a damp rag will clean up most of the plastic boxes that have been out there for over twenty years.  Then inspect your baits and lures.  Do they need to have new hooks put on them?  I either replace my hooks from the original box or when needed repair with VMC hooks.  How sharp are those hooks?  Now is the time to touch them up with a file and get them sharp for the up coming season.
 As long as you are touching up some of your tackle you should spend sometime refurbishing your reels.  I might need to replace a bail spring or a handle or just take my extra spools that come with my Shimano reels and pre-spool them.  I will pre-spool my spinning reels with Stren Hi-Vis green in 6 or 8 lb. test and pre-spool my Shimano Calais and Castaic baitcasters with 10 lb. test original Stren Lo-Vis green.  
 One thing that is very important when spooling up line in the winter is to make sure that you know what line is on each spool. You can mark them by attaching a tag to the line telling you what pound test is on the line.  Why is this important?  Well if you look at any of the new dive charts that just came out, you will quickly discover that if you change the diameter of the line your lures will ride higher in the strike zone.  For trolling I use 10# Stren exclusively as it is strong and I can utilize the dive curves.
When was the last time you gave your fishing rod the once over?  Chances are that it was at the very start of the season, and how many times have you been on the water since that time?
 It is essential that anglers periodically inspect and maintain their rods and components to assure peak casting and fish fighting performance.  A few minutes invested in checking the blank, real seat, guide wraps and grips may also save you money in the long run.  
 Here are some tips that I use when inspecting my rods so they maintain their top performance on the water.
 Pull a strip of nylon hose through each guide.  If the material sticks or threads, there’s probably a nick in the guide which could lead to line damage.  Replace the guides as necessary.  Most local dealers offer this service for a very nominal fee.
 Inspect guide wraps for hints of wear.  Re-wrap if necessary or seal any loose ends with a dab of clear nail polish or epoxy.  Again, a local dealer may provide this service for a very reasonable charge.
 Clean the cork grips by gently rinsing with a warm water and soap solution.  If fish scales and slime prove stubborn, gently rub the grips with a piece of fine steel wool.  If the rod is fitted with EVA foam grips, wipe them with a soapy dishrag, then rinse in cool water.
 Check the reel seat for any buildup of residue, or evidence of corrosion.  The reel will not set properly with “gunk” on the seat, and the seat may be difficult to move or could even seize up if corroded.  This can be remedied by rubbing with a soapy sponge, rinsing with cool water and drying thoroughly with a towel.  The use of WD-40 (or similar) will help prevent corrosion.
 If utilizing a two-piece rod, rub a very light coating of paraffin onto the ferrule.  This not only makes for a firm, sure connection, but also makes it easier to separate the sections.
 Store the rod(s) in a horizontal or vertical rack as opposed to leaning against a wall or stacking in a corner where the rod might bend and actually take a “set.”
 Run your fingers over the length of the blank.  Should you detect any dings, the rod may have incurred damage that may cause it to break during use.
 When it comes time to add that new action to your arsenal, you need only to visit your local dealer.  There you will find all kinds of rods from ultra light panfish rods to salt water varieties. Shimano offers some affordably yet high end rods worthy of a look.  Take some time now that winter grips the lakes and inspect your rods, tackle boxes, line and components and you will have more time on the water this spring.
 If you are interested in finding out more about preparing for the season you can on my website at www.walleye.info See you on the water!!!

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