While many anglers tend to put fishing on the back burner at this time of year a few minutes spent on your fishing gear now will pay big dividends next spring. Resist the impulse to throw your fishing rods in a corner of the garage and your tackle in the basement.
Rods and reels
Starting with your fishing rods, wipe them clean with a damp cloth and, if your last trip was after mackerel, you might want to use some mild soap and water as well. This is also a good time to check for worn guides, loose reel seats or frayed wraps. Take your rods apart and store them in a dry area.
Reels should also be wiped down and lightly oiled. Again, if you were fishing salt water you should pay more attention to the cleaning. Check your fly reels for grit and sand under the spools, especially if they have exposed rims. After cleaning the reel apply light oil to the gears and spindle. If your reel is held together with screws check for loose or missing screws. Spinning reels should also receive a light oiling. It is also a good idea to slack off the drag knob of your spinning reel to relieve tension on the drag washer.
Take the time to check your line. If it is nicked and worn, replace it before next season. Line is cheap, especially if you lose that big trout when your old line breaks. In the case of fly lines it is a good idea to wash them with mild soap and water and let them dry before storing them off the reel for the winter. Most modern fly lines are very expensive so a little care now will ensure a good return on your investment.
Flies, lures and boots
Clean and dry tackle boxes and fly boxes before putting them away or you may begin next season with a lot of rusty hooks. Check your fly selection and make a mental note of which patterns you will have to tie up during the winter to ensure you can match the hatch when the need arises. Waders and hip boots deserve special attention, given the prices they charge for them today. I wash off any mud and hang them upside down in an unheated building.
If you don’t plan on taking advantage of extended sport fishing opportunities this fall and winter, and the end of September marks the end of your fishing season, take a few moments to fill in and mail your angler report card which is included with your licence. Information on your catch and effort is valuable for sport fish managers.
Fortunately, there are other sport fishing opportunities which local anglers can take advantage of during the off season. Although the general season closes the end of September don’t forget fall salmon season is open until the end of October on some rivers. Gairloch and Dryden Lakes are open year around for trout while Black and West Branch Lakes are open all year for white and yellow perch as well as chain pickerel. You can also fish rainbow and brook trout year round in Cameron and Gillis Lakes, Antigonish County. Don’t forget the trout bag limit on these lakes is reduced to two fish per day during the winter season.
Don MacLean is an outdoor writer and biologist who lives in Pictou County.