Cabin Fever Bass Fishing

Cabin Fever? 25 Things To Do In Downtime

Organize your baits.
Organize your baits.

No matter what is keeping you from the water, not being able to go fishing isn’t a whole lot of fun. There’s no need to be bored, though – there are lots of fishing-related things to do while you’re stuck at home. Here are over twenty ideas to get you started.

  1. Organize your baits. I’ve fished with guys who just had all their bags of worms tossed into the compartments on their boats. What a mess! When they wanted to re-tie, they had to stop everything and root around to find the right bag of plastics. Use your downtime to get your plastics organized finally. You can group them by type or even by color. If you want to keep them in their original bags, get some boxes that will let you stack them vertically so you can see them all easily. This will save you tons of time on the water.
  2. To organize your terminal tackle, try several small tackle boxes where you can store the various things you need for specific techniques. I have boxes for Carolina rigs, Texas rigs, drop shot and split shot rigs, etc. I also have separate boxes for small jigheads. Use a permanent marker to write the sizes of hooks and weights on the bottom of the individual compartments.
  3. Change out the hooks on your crankbaits. Buy some good trebles and switch them all out.
  4. Touch up the hooks on your bigger jigs and blade baits. If they look a little rusty, use some sandpaper to smooth them out, then sharpen the point.
  5. Check over your blade baits. Are any split rings beginning to look a bit stretched out? Is the skirt starting to look a bit limp and bedraggled? Are the blades started to look dull? Now is the time to replace anything that needs to be replaced. If a bait looks sad, you probably won’t tie it on, so why not fix it up and make it usable.
  6. Clean and organize your boat. Downtime is the perfect time to shampoo the carpets, empty those lockers and organize them, toss any trash, check all the fuses, etc. Use a good cleanser with a UV protectant on the seats, and vacuum the compartments before reloading them.
  7. Check your trolling motor and your big motor. Take the props right off and ensure there is no line wrapped around. While at it, grease the shafts and ensure all the parts are in good shape.
  8. While cleaning the boat and checking the motors, check your batteries and grease the hubs on your trailer if you have that kind of wheel. Clean the battery terminals and keep them charged up. We have a solar panel that keeps ours on trickle charge.
  9. Image
    Mark a map.
    Mark a map.
    Perfect your techniques: put some targets around the yard, use small dishes, place them close to shrubs and fences, etc. Use poles and trees, and walk around the yard practicing pitching and flipping to those little targets. Just use the bait you would typically use.
  10. Learn some new knots. I love the Palomar knot, and I can even use one on a big buzzbait, but recently I was taught to tie a great knot to join braid to fluorocarbon. It took a while – knots can be tricky to learn, but knowing a few essential knots is a great skill. There are plenty of videos online and diagrams that you can use. Practice over and over, several days in a row, then refresh your memory every once in a while.
  11. Teach your kids to use a baitcaster. This may take a while. Be patient.
  12. If you have access to a swimming pool, take some baits out and practice working them in the pool. Some of the best fishermen I know say they spend much time watching how baits move in the water. Throw a Senko out there and see how it moves when it free falls, when you twitch it, and when you let it sink and rip it. Now throw a knock-off and see the difference. Watch a spinnerbait as you slow roll it across the bottom so you can feel the difference when the blades are moving. Picturing what a bait is doing in the water is easy once you’ve seen it.
  13. Get out your hooks and floating baits and see which hooks will allow a bait to float. You may be surprised.
  14. Practice some functional workouts that will help you once you get back on the water. For instance, try something like Tai Chi or special exercises for core strength to help with balance. Work your shoulders and arms so you don’t fatigue them so quickly when throwing a big bait all day. Practice meditation so you can focus and stay positive when you fish. It does make a difference.
  15. Get your boat wrapped. It protects your boat like crazy, so when it comes time to sell and get a new one, you’ll get top dollar for it. You can wrap the motor if you can’t afford to wrap the whole boat. The guys who do the wraps can help you design a wrap that is unique to you. You can also get big stickers made from the same stuff they wrap the boats with, and you may get a great deal on them because they can be made from leftover vinyl from other larger wraps.
  16. Learn to use a GoPro.
  17. Here’s a biggie: learn to use your electronics. I mean, use your electronics. Go beyond the factory settings. Watch videos – you can find them on the website for your graph, but you can also find great tips and information from guys who are masters of their machines. You will be amazed at how much this will help you as a fisherman.
  18. Image
    You can keep the hooks and terminal tackle for specific techniques in smaller boxes.
    You can keep the hooks and terminal tackle for specific techniques in smaller boxes.
    If you are a hunter, you know how important it is to know what your prey likes to eat as much as possible. You wouldn’t hunt in an area that doesn’t have the food they need, right? Bass are hunters. Bass fishermen are hunters. So use your downtime to learn as much as possible about the prey that bass feed on. Where are shad at different times of the year? What do they eat, and where? What about crawfish? What does their year look like? Find out all you can about what bass eat, and you’ll be ahead of the curve when finding the bass themselves. Aaron Martens makes a point of studying what bass eat, and so should you. It will not only help you find the bass, but it will also help you choose the right lures to get them to bite.
  19. Mark a paper map. If you fish reservoirs where the water level fluctuates, you will be amazed at how things pop out at you if you mark a paper map. I did this for Lake Pleasant, a lake that fluctuates as much as 100 vertical feet yearly. Get a good lake map that shows contour lines and a handful of colored fine tip markers. Start at ten feet below full pool and trace that ten-foot contour line around the lake. Don’t stop there – make sure you find any humps that come up to that level away from shore. In the case of Pleasant, I used 20-foot intervals and marked them all the way down to 100 feet below full. When I go to the lake, I check the level as I walk down the ramp (plaques in the concrete mark it). The regular full is 1702. If the lake is at 1640, I use that color as the shoreline when I look at the map. The bonus is that it immediately shows me islands that appear when the lake is at the level, and it also shows me humps that are 10 – 20 feet under the surface. Those can be dynamite fishing, especially if they don’t have marker buoys. This map marking takes a long time, but it is worth it.
  20. Now that you have your tackle and baits organized, is there a lot of stuff you don’t use? Find a high school, grade school, or college club near you and donate those baits. Those clubs are usually pretty strapped for cash; as a rule, kids don’t have a lot of disposable income to use on baits. They will be delighted to have your unused baits – they’ll give them out at meetings and tournaments, and those baits will get put to good use.
  21. Watch fishing videos online. Need a good laugh? Search for Bill Dance bloopers. Just want some great info? There are tons of informative fishing videos on BassResource – use your downtime to learn even more about the sport you love.
  22. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer reading rather than watching a video. I can read a whole lot faster than most fishermen can talk. There are hundreds of informational articles on bass fishing on BassResource, and you could spend days, even weeks, reading them all.
  23. If you’ve cleaned and organized your tackle, baits, boat, and trailer, why not show some love to your rods and reels? Clean and oil your reels and re-spool them with new line. Get in the habit of loosening the drag when you put them away to reduce stress on the line and the reel itself.
  24. Your rod handles could probably use a good cleaning as well – you grip them with your fishy hands for hours at a time, after all. Cork handles can be cleaned with a variety of things. Some guys use Soft Scrub for really dirty cork handles. Make sure you don’t scrub anything metal or the rod blank, or it could scratch. Baby wipes do a great job too, and you don’t have to worry about getting that on anything else. If they are really bad, use a bit of sandpaper. Don’t forget to check all the rod guides to ensure they don’t have any cracks in the ceramic (or even missing ceramic) and check for rust or anything else that could damage your fishing line as it passes through the guides.
  25. Study your fishing log. If you haven’t been keeping one, vow to start once you get back on the water. Keeping a fishing log will make you a better fisherman. You can get fishing log books online or use a spiral notebook. Keep track of weather and details about where and how they were biting.

Keep busy when you’re forced to stay off the water – use the time to improve your skills, gear, rig, and body. It will pay off when you can finally wet a line again.