Without fanfare and with few detailed descriptions, here’s O’Neill’s seasoned (that means I’ve been doing this for a long, long time) basic fishing preparations, in no particular order of importance, no matter what the species or destinations you’ve chosen.
- Put fresh line on all your reels and supply yourself with some ‘Reel Magic’ for line maintenance during the days on the lakes and streams.
- Check the guides on all your rods to locate possible scratches, fiberglass cracks, and damage that otherwise may cause you to break off the fish of a lifetime. Pass cotton balls through the guides to locate trouble. I know you don’t have any cotton balls, but your wife has thousands.
- Disassemble, clean and oil your reels. You’ll be amazed at how much more smoothly they perform. Remember, they’ve been sitting around collecting dust during late deer season and could stand some maintenance left over from last fall.
- Put together a small children’s tackle boxes with their name taped outside and a couple of closed faced reels and rods fully equipped for a special spring trip and include a handwritten note of promise for a trip for the spring. Give it to a couple of children, relatives, or local neighbors. Do it now as it’s the most important activity you have. Be sure and flatten all the barbs on all the hooks in the box. When the users get hooked, the hooks can remove it easily. The barb was originally added to the hook to keep live bait on anyway.
- Categorize and prepare your tackle according to the destination, species, and the anticipated actions on your most visited lake. For instance, rig a couple of rods to have readily available close by on the deck if stripers or bass surface beyond normal casting distance. Emergency rigging after witnessing the activity will take too long to be productive. Create a rod and reel combo with heavy line for when you will be fishing shallow stained rivers and ponds. During a given day, when a trip up the river is dictated, you’ll be ready.
- Pick out spring destinations and sought out species never fished before to widen your experience; catfish at Santee, carp on the fly, mountain trout streams, East Tennessee’s reservoirs that, with low population close by, are delightfully under fished, and finally today’s target of the weekend angler, inshore saltwater for reds, sea trout and other species. You will find the fish to be big and hungry and you will have plenty of space to explore.
- Rig a half dozen buzz baits and spinner baits with the trailer hook turned down and pack them in a separate plastic bag or box so you won’t have to fashion them on site. When you’re missing surface feeding bass, having the trailer hook down instead of up will increase your catch by 50 percent.
- Listen to O’Neill Outside Radio every Saturday morning to be reminded about all this.