Meeting The New SeasonManaging a progressive sport shop, I see all skill levels throughout the day. Having said that I want to address some common concerns about equipment heading into a new fishing season.
First is the boat. After the winter slumber, make sure no critters got in and chewed up the wires. Charge the batteries and drop a set of muffs on the outboard and fire it up before launching. Believe me, the guy behind you at the landing will appreciate it.
Check your main and trolling motors for anything that may be entangled in or around the prop. Remember, it's usually not your line that gets in there. Today's waters hold any number of hazards and discarded line is a big problem. You can pick it up anywhere and the damage it does to water seals in not only motors but your trailer hubs, can be disastrous and expensive.
Speaking of your trailer, if that's not ready, the boat isn't moving. Give the winch a once over to make sure the teeth are biting and not worn down. Examine the ground on your electrical connections to ensure proper lighting. Check the wheel bearings, both outside and inside for water or leakage. The side rails and bunks should get a look too because a bolt jutting through a rotting board can do quite a number on your boat's finish.
Then move to your fishing gear. Is the line on your spinning gear twisted? Change it. The braided line on your baitcaster fading? Change it. Baitcasters, by the way, require a little more attention than their spinning counterparts. If you notice your line bunching up on one end of the spool, that's a classic indication you need a new pawl. This is the tiny metal piece that rides in the worm gear to move the levelwind back and forth. It's a simple fix with a screwdriver to pop the cap off and replacing the worn part. You can do it for a couple bucks or a sport shop can handle it for around $8.00. Lubricate the worm gear with ONE DROP of a good reel oil after cleaning it and you're good to go.
One of the biggest things I see at the shop are guys who, when storing their gear for the winter, don't back off the drag and/or brake settings. If kept tight, the washers are squashed straight and will show you in a hurry why it's a good idea to loosen things before storage. Typically you'll lose the drag setting. It's a quick fix but necessary to ensure a fighting chance for that next big fish.
A few minutes of examination and preparation will give you a better chance to put fish in the boat this season.
See you on the water...