Cabin Fever Remedies
By Nick Ruiz
About the time this article was written, yours truly was sitting at a laptop suffering from the most advanced stages of cabin fever. As a New Yorker, I still find remnants of snow in shady spots that are a constant reminder of how far off in the not too immediate distance fishing season is. Such to the point that I have even resorted to playing fishing simulation games on the computer to ease an impending fishing induced nervous breakdown. Though despite that fact, I have discovered a number of things one can do in their down time, depending on how long it is, that will make your time fishing come the long awaited spring that much more productive.
Here are a few of the things I do during winter, to my tackle and other fishing accouterments, that keep me occupied and make for better fishing in the spring.
We all own one. It's the reel that no matter what you do to it, it will continue to squeak. Now is the time to get to those trouble reels, oil, clean, and respool them in time for spring. Reel oil is available from a number of sources and manufactures, all of which are very effective. Check your drag washers; make sure they are working smoothly also. Its much less stress inducing to find malfunctioning ones now, rather than letting a five pound smallie find one in May. In the event that you do find malfunctioning parts, taking care of it now allows plenty of time to ship in new parts so they are ready come game time.
Lure Clean-Up & Care
Quite possibly one of the most tedious aspects of fishing, is taking care of the baits that we want the fish to abuse. If you are as bored as I am right now clipping excess bits of knots and line from split rings and eyelet's can provide hours of entertainment that would otherwise be spent thinking about fishing. I like to change hooks, making sure to upgrade all my stock, out of the package hooks, to far more durable and more effective after-market brands. Also, I make any adjustments to the baits that I need to, replacing split rings, and any other terminal component. Doing this now saves me the last minute "flight of the bumble bees" mad rush routine in the hotel room come time to fish those baits in a tournament.
Storage evaluation & adjustment
Though this one sounds somewhat lofty, all it really means is make sure everything is where it's supposed to be. If you already have a set system of organizing your tackle, make sure it is set up the way you would like it, baits and such where they belong. Of course if you do not have a method of organizing your gear, now would be an excellent time to consider your options. Having such a system, even one as simple as labeled boxes or bags, will make life on the water a heck of a lot easier. With the free time now, take a look at what you have, then determine which would be the most productive method of organizing your tackle to make it both cost effective and practical at the same time. For more information on this usually fairly uneventful subject, have a look at my article entitled "A Place For Your Stuff".
All this free time on your hands, and there's that Bass Pro Shops catalog staring you right in the face, with all 358 pages of angling glory! While I don't suggest going on a spending spree that would put a small sovereign nation in debt, I do suggest you take a look at what gear needs replacing and do so now. It's much easier now do take your time and really evaluate what you had, what you need, and what you want to try that's new. I say this, because there have been times that I have done this in the spring and it has been a rush job, with fear of getting things shipped in before the next tournament date. So basically the message here is to take a well thought out inventory of what you have and then to take a look at the budget you have to work within and take it from there. No words I can write here can describe the overwhelming "Son of a" feeling that you get when you look for your confidence bait and realize that its still hung up in a lay down 300 miles from your current location on a lake you fished last season.
Boating & Trailer Equipment Check
This is basically a continuation of what I mentioned above. Make sure you have all the necessities on hand such as motor oil and lower unit lube so that you are ready to hit the water come springtime. A bonus here is that many times boating stores will put such items on sale as they need to move them in the winter when the demand is lower. So not only do you get prepared, you get the added incentive of saved cash. File under this heading bearing grease, replacement lights, hitch accessories, batteries, and any other item that may go south during the winter or towards the end of last fishing season. Once again, in effort to make life easier when it all counts.
Granted not all of us fish tournaments, however for those of us that do, here are some things that can not only give you something to do when the cold stuff hits, but can make competition a little more productive. I like to get a hold of my schedules as soon as I can, so I can begin the scouting and info gathering process. (See yet another one of my articles "Approaching New Water" for more information on how to go about this) I like to make lodging reservations well in advance before they become unavailable, and I like to plan other engagements such as trade shows and speaking dates around my tournament dates as well. Also, now would be the time to order in contour maps of the lakes too, so you can familiarize yourself with them and make any mental notes you would like. Many times a clear head without the pressures of what you did wrong last week can make for a far better pattern or plan. Also, on a tournament note, you can go about securing tournament partners if necessary too, with plenty of time to adjust plans accordingly. Now would also be a good time to plan out directions from your location to the actual lake which makes traveling a breeze rather than a burden, which means you can concentrate on fishing rather than finding your place to fish.
Despite what some anglers, no matter how good they are, or say they are, do not know everything there is to know about the sport. This is where winter and the fact that leaving your house, even to get a Value Meal from the local burger joint can spell instant hypothermia, is a good thing. With all that indoor free time to kill, why not brush up on some tactics, or take the time to read (especially my articles!), and learn something new. I make it a point to stock up on books and magazines that I think provide good insight as to what's going on with tactics and the sport in general. Now, with the Internet, which if you are reading this on a computer monitor you all ready know, can provide an endless source of educational material that will make you a better, if nothing else, a more informed angler. There are several tactics that I have read about that I am looking forward to throwing this season. I don't think I am far off when I say fishing is a perfect example as far as sports go, where knowledge is literally power. Yes folks, the pen may be mightier than the flippin' stick here.
With that said, I hope I have provided some insights and suggestions as to what you can do to kill time that would otherwise be spent watching Bill or Roland landing their next catch, whilst you dig into bag number two of Dorito chips! These of course are only suggestions, for more, just think of anything you rush around doing before your next trip or tournament, and do it now!
Catch ya' on the water...