Suppose you’ve been trying for years to catch “the big one.” It’s the fish of a lifetime, the one that you’ll put on the wall. What’s the worse thing that could happen when you do finally sink a hook into Old Satchmo’s lip?
The answer is simple: Your line breaks and the fish swims away with your lure. Right? Just another story of … the one that got away.
Then again, what if your hook straightens out and the big fish pulls loose? It’ll still be just as gone. Or, what if your reel malfunctions at precisely the wrong time, causing slack in the line, thus enabling your trophy fish to “throw” the hook? It’ll still be just as gone... Maybe your landing net has a gaping hole in it, and the fish falls right back into the deep from whence it came. It’ll still be just as gone...
In short, there are countless, mostly avoidable, problems that could arise to cause you to lose your fish. I have some ideas, believe it or not, that may help avoid such a disappointing catastrophe.
My first suggestion would be to carefully inspect all your gear. Even if you have already made several trips to the water this spring and things seem to be working fine, don’t wait ‘til you lose a trophy fish and ruin a trip because of faulty equipment.
First, strip off old line from your reels, even from cane poles. At the very least, cut off a foot or two from the end of the line to get rid of any abrasions from a previous trip. It won’t hurt to do this even if the line is relatively new.
Clean your reels and soak them in hot water to remove old grease and other gunk. Because fish can “smell,” I use no foreign scents or cleansers when I clean my reels. Use recommended grease when putting the reels back together, and then re-spool with fresh line. Even at that, you’re far from finished.
Next, inspect your tackle box. Since my tackle box has been stored throughout the hunting season, when I first open it in the spring, usually there is a foul odor eminating from it. As previously mentioned, fish can smell, and if your lures smell like insect repellent, deoderize them … or you’ll be a long time waiting for a strike.
Clean up your gear. Let it air out. And while you’re at it, you might as well take inventory. If you have a favorite lure that is in short supply, replenish. I have a favorite lure, a clear Tiny Torpedo, and you can bet I won’t head to the water without at least two or three.
There are so many things an angler should inspect, repair or replace before heading to the water that one column will barely scratch the surface. Besides, one of my two readers just fell asleep. On top of that, you already know all this stuff; this is just a friendly reminder. Plus, it helps me pay the bills (Yes, they actually pay me for this stuff. Hard to believe, ain’t it?).
Nonetheless, do be careful when you head the waterways. And always remember, when you go, take a kid with you … every time you can.