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Keeping Busy Between Ice and Open Water Season-What You Can Do to Prep for Open Water

Early spring, in my opinion is one of the most dreary, awful times of the year. The weather sucks, you can't ever seem to get more than 2 consecutive nice days, game fish aren't open on the lakes yet, and a person can only do so much trout fishing before they go crazy. Here is a few things I do this time of year to keep my sanity and prep for open water fishing.


You can’t honestly stay that your tackle is all neat and organized, or that you can go in one of your boxes and find me a HJ-12 in purpledescent without pulling out 7 other cranks with it. Keeping organized is a big part of staying efficient while fishing, and makes life so much easier in the long run. Efficiency = less time screwing around and more time fishing, which we all need. There are lots of little things you can do from the organizational standpoint that really do make a big difference in your overall efficiency.


This one may seem kind of lame, however simply labeling your tackle boxes can save you a lot of time when you are feverishly digging through the boat or tackle bag looking for a certain lure. I like to divvy up my lures by make/size. For example, HUSKY JERK SIZE 12. For those of you who have tried writing on a plano box with a sharpie before, you know that it doesn't like to stay on super well. I have found that lightly scuffing the surface that you plan to write on helps big time with ink adhesion. You can use the scrubby green side of a household sponge to lightly rough the surface (just until the plastic turns an opache white) which will give the sharpie something to "bite" into.


How annoying is it when you grab the one lure you want, and you end up pulling half of the lures out of the box with it? I sincerely hate that. One simple way I’ve found to combat this issue is by using small orthodontic rubber bands to hold my hooks together. This is a simple and cheap way to keep your hooks from snagging each other. I simply flip the lure upside down, point both (or more) hooks towards the center of the lure, and wrap them together with the rubber band. This keeps your hooks under control, and also helps save some space in the box by making the lures more compact. There are products on the market designed to fit over individual hooks, however, I have found them to be easily lost and somewhat pricey compared to the bands.


I hate having to sort through my boxes of single hooks. It just stinks, however keeping your hooks organized makes life a lot easier when you are in a pinch to get tied up. The best thing I have found to keep all of my single hooks organized is to use safety pins. You can buy a pack of 100 for only a few bucks, and they are well worth the investment! Simply thread your hooks onto the open end of the pin, and close it once it’s full. Now you can load up your hook box and keep everything organized by hook type, size, finish, whatever! Walleye Guys: this also applies to spinner blades! Throw those bad boys on a pin as well!


You would be amazed at how much crud is accumulated in your rod guides throughout a season. This accumulation doesn’t have too much of an effect of “performance”, however, it can be somewhat abrasive and can wear your line. I always take the time to clean out my guides at the end of every season, especially on my trolling and muskie rods. It’s not rocket science: grab some Q-tips, a cup full of hot soapy water, and go to town. You will be absolutely amazed how much crap you will clean out of your guides. Yes, it sounds like a totally mind-numbing job, but in the end, you will be extending the life of your line, which WE ALL KNOW IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR EQUIPMENT AS IT IS THE DIRECT LINK BETWEEN YOU AND THE FISH. RIGHT?! Okay, good!


Now that you have squeaky clean guides, let’s re-spool! There is no harm in doing it this early as long as you will be keeping your reels out of direct sunlight because AS WE ALL KNOW, ultraviolet radiation is bad news for monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. Now’s an awesome time to let you in on yet another way to save some $$$ with your line. Instead of stripping all of the line off of your reel, take off about half of it. Now, go ahead and use your favorite line-to-line knot to tie on your new stuff. The old line you left will serve as a space filler, requiring less new line to fill the reel. When you think about it, you really only use a small portion of the line on your spool, so why replace all of it? Doing this, I can typically fill 2-3 reels with a single filler spool of line.


It’s boring, it’s tedious, but sharp hooks can make all the difference. There’s just nothing quite like the feeling of sadness when you miss a fish setting the hook. Although dull hooks are not always to blame, you may as well remove them from the equation. Take your sad self down to your favorite tackle shop (which always cheers me up) and purchase yourself a hook file. You don’t need the most expensive model, just something comfortable. I prefer to use a more old school file over the newer compact ones, or even electric ones since they offer more control and fine tuning abilities. Always work the file from the base of the point towards the point, never the other way around. Use light even pressure, and let the file do the work. Usually after a few passes around the point, you are good to go. HERE is a quick video with fellow guide Lee Tauchen showing the proper way to sharpen hooks. Yeah, it sounds boring, but what else is there to do, other than read this article, which must mean you are super bored.

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