It’s mid-January. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has come and gone. Winter has welcomed us with open arms. Let’s face it, we surf fishermen are already itching for spring. Yes, SPRING, it can’t come soon enough. When the season finally turns, will you be ready- ready to grab your equipment and hit the beach? Is your surf bag ready? Are your hooks and lures? How about YOU, are you ready for your next big fish?
The weather might not agree, but a great year of fishing begins in January. Planning and preparing, in a variety of ways, will help reduce a lot of the issues anglers could encounter once they are out on the jetty or in the surf. Once the holidays are over, it's a wise idea, unless your last name is Shimano, or you are a skilled reel repairman, to bring all your reels to your local tackle shop, or your reel repair specialist, to be serviced. If there is something major that needs to be done, parts have to be
ordered. This definitely takes time, and you don’t want to be cutting it close to the start of the season. The earlier you bring them in, the earlier you get them returned- and it will be one less thing to worry about!
While the reels are getting serviced this is also a perfect time to have your line replaced. You can ask the shop to do it, or, remove the line before you send them out, and wind on the new as soon as they are returned. If you have ever lost a big fish, you already know that your Fishing Line is the most important part of your rig- it’s the only part of your equipment directly connected to a fish. Line in poor condition, weathered by sand, sun and surf, will give you poor results. That is an undeniable fact, so don’t be cheap when it comes to your line. If you're questioning yourself whether to replace it or not, replace it, You won’t be sorry you did, but you could easily be sorry you didn’t!
Along the same lines (yes, pun intended J), pay close attention to your lures. Remove any jigs that have rusty hooks and any soft plastics that have been weakened by holes, bite marks or other tears from your tackle boxes and bags. Using them will certain introduce more risk into your fishing and potentially be the difference between a catch and missed opportunity. Don’t forget the hooks on your plugs. Examine them for rest, broken tips, sharpness, and especially give the split rings some scrutiny on any plugs you used last season. Spend the time and change the hooks and split rings that look marginal. Remember, they have been exposed to the saltwater, a very corrosive environment. Don’t let the potential to save a few pennies be the reason you didn’t land your trophy fish! I can if you lose a monster because of a rusted split ring, I can guarantee you won’t be happy.
Since you took off your reels, take the time to examine your rods- they may be showing some wear and tear as well. Check the guides, especially the inside of the guides. Checking the inside will help make sure the guides are smooth and that they won’t take a nick out of your line on every cast and retreive. If the guides have nicks or grooves, this eventually guarantee your line will break, and Murphy will make sure it is at the worst possible time! Come on, we have all been
there. The fish hits, that line gets tight, and it finds its way into that nick or groove in the guide and SNAP! No more fish on, only fish gone….and lure gone and….well you know. Check your reel seat too. Make sure nothing is loose or damaged. Nobody wants their reel coming loose when crankin’ time begins. Worse yet, you definitely don’t want it to fall off the rod.
Then there are you lights and pliers. These are just as important when it comes to readiness. Make sure you have fresh batteries in your lights and headlamps. Check the contacts to make sure they are free of corrosion. Be sure to
clean your pliers well with soap and water, and take the time to have them lubed, sharpened and ready to go, especially those braid cutters.
Lastly, if you really want to be prepared for a seamless transition from winter to spring, get
organized! There are many ways to accomplish this. Purchase a large bin which contains several smaller, clear plastic bins. The smaller ones are perfect to separate and store various types of lures- bucktails, darters, bottle plugs, SP Minnows, Mag Darters, popping plugs, soft plastics etc. Storage bins are useful because you can also use them to separate lures by daytime and nighttime applications. Sometimes it helps to purchase an additional surf bag to help you get organized. You can also use this additional to surf bag and your new found organization to create a “grab and go” bag loaded with all your “go to’s”- it will certainly save time when you hear they are biting and your need to get going on short notice.
In closing, preparation is the catalyst for success. Putting in extra time during the winter, and paying close attention to the details, should result in fewer issues come Spring. Trying to consistently catch fish is hard enough, so why let your lack of preparation or your forgetfulness- all human errors- make things more complicated and potentially troublesome when you hit the water? Plan ahead, then you can grab your equipment, your surf bag, your favorite lures, so you can land your next big fish. Live Authentic! Live the Passion! Tight lines!
Bernie Hoyt is a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with over 30 years experience specializing in surf
casting the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as the Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing as well as a long time member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass and through his website at www.Berniebass.com