You can't pick the time when a big fish hits. So make sure your gear is in good working order at the start of the season and throughout the year.
Experts suggest checking all reels, rods and line before the season starts and do regular maintenance throughout the season. Replace line, repair line guides on rods and perform reel maintenance twice a season if necessary, particularly on those rigs that get a lot of action.
So, to make sure I do not lose a big fish, I perform the following maintenance before the season starts. I like to paraphrase Vince Lombardi, the great football coach, who said football games are won in the summer when training is done… I say big fish are caught in the off season when proper maintenance is done.
Give your reels a good cleaning, particularly when the line is off. Grease where directed by manufacturer, often times, the reel is marked where to do this. If instructions are long gone do not hesitate to stop by your local bait or tackle shop to ask where to grease. Do not grease the drag, it is not meant to be greased, if you do, it will not work.
George Poveromo, host of George Poveromo's World of Saltwater Fishing said, "As a rule of thumb, a reel should be brought to an authorized reel center at least once a year." And, with reels that get a lot of action, perhaps twice a year.
"Today's fishing reels have more moving parts than ever… more parts with dissimilar metals, and this is how galvanic corrosion sets in." said Mike Bucko of Bucko's Tackle Service, Fall River, MA. Anglers should wash reels with soapy water after each use, rinse and dry them… but this is not enough to prevent galvanized corrosion. Bucko said, "Only an internal cleaning can prevent corrosion." The company totally dismantles reels, puts all parts through an extensive cleaning process and then reassembles the reels for use. Visit them at www.
Each year, replace used line. This is a judgment call as to what is meant by "used". The braid line I spooled on two rigs at the end of the season is still ok, however, I took line off at the beginning of the reel that was showing signs of wear. Experts say to cross braid line when spooling onto conventional reels to prevent the line from digging into the spool when a big fish is on. Another tip is to re-spool lead line putting the used portion on the reel first, this way you use line that is new as most anglers rarely use more than three to four colors (90' to 120') of line. Replace all the monofilament line on reels at the start of the season. Monofilament line has memory so it tangles easily and creates bird nest tangles when it is old or has been sitting in the cold for a while. Also stretch the line, the first 100 feet (of monofilament line) to relax its memory and avoid tangles. When you change any type of line it is important to spool tight or the line may slip on the spool. To prevent braided line from slipping on the reel, first spool some monofilament backing to the reel as it will not slip, tie braid line to the monofilament, then spool the braided line onto the reel.
Examine the rods for cracks and stress marks. Closely examine the eyes for chips or cuts that could cause line to snag, rub or break. Do not place hooks on the eyes or they will eventually create cracks that will cut line as it passes through. Place all baits at the base of the reel as those hooked to an eye brace will bang on the rod and may cause microscopic cracks in the rod blank that could lead to a broken rod.
I get tackle ready in chronological order when certain species are fished… starting with tautog, striped bass, blue fish, fluke, sea bass, etc. I then go through tautog rigs first, then the striped bass, etc. Make sure you have enough rigs to fish the species. Hooks should be clean and sharp (no rust), and strong enough for the size fish you are going after. Often hooks that come with lures are not quality hooks so I replace them with stronger hooks.
Use wire leaders for blue fish and monofilament or fluorocarbon for striped bass, fluke, sea bass, etc. Blues won't bite though the wire and other species will find it harder to see the monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders. As a rule I replace all used leaders at the beginning of the season. During the season make sure leaders have no nicks or stress marks from fish pulling. If they do, replace them. I switched most of my hooks to circle hooks, I did this so I can safely catch and release undersized or unwanted fish (particularly striped bass). Circle hooks are designed to hook the fish at the corner of the mouth and not down in the belly. All hooks should be sharp and rust free.
Three men arrested
for illegal eel harvesting
Conservation officers with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife have arrested and charged three men from Maine with illegally harvesting more than 24,000 juvenile eels from an Atlantic County, NJ creek. The three men were observed by conservation officers tending an illegally set net in the Absecon Creek in Absecon, NJ at night. The net was set to catch glass eels, also known as elvers, a juvenile form of the American eel. These eels are kept alive and raised for food popular in overseas cuisine. They can fetch upwards of $2,500 per pound on the open market. The 24,000 eels weighed about nine pounds. American eel populations are stressed by a number of factors, including loss of habitat and over-harvesting.
East Bay Anglers
used tackle sale
The East Bay Anglers fishing club will run a used fishing tackle sale on Saturday, March 30 at the Riverside Sportsman's Club on Mohawk Drive - just off the Wampanoag Trail in East Providence. According to Matt Newell, Club president, "Last year's pioneering event was so well received we're expected to repeat it this year."
The sale starts at 9:00 a.m. and runs until 2:00 p.m., according to Newell. Buyers gain entry to the sale with a $2 donation. There will be reels, lures, rods and combos + misc. tackle. Free appraisals done by Frank's Classic Tackle. For information contact Dave Fewster, event chairman, at 401 230-8201.
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license and a charter fishing license. He is a RISAA board member, a member of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and a member of the RI Marine Fisheries Council. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.