Fishing prep comes with signs of spring

tackle box

There’s really only one way to know without question that spring has arrived and it has to do with fishing lures. Yes, we all know about rodent forecasts, skunk cabbage, trillium and spring peepers; all basically the stuff of wife’s tales, urban legend or simply wishful guesses.

The real truth comes with a visit to a favorite tackle shop. If the racks of new fishing lures are full — jammed with every lure known to man, every size and in every imaginable color — then spring becomes more than a wish. Take it to the bank, true spring is fairly close.

Well, guess what: the lure displays are spilling over with goodies. Thus we must prepare for the game.

Fishing line

So let’s get started with that old fishing line, or lines, the same ones that looked more like a Slinky than a pliable connection between man and beast. We all know the adage that fishing lines that have been subjected to battles with countless giant fish and the destructive UV rays of the previous sunny season should be replaced with new, unbelievably expensive, and more effective line.

It’s the pricey way to eliminate, or at least reduce, the chance of a sudden, trophy-losing snap just as crappie season cranks up.

The cheap way to accomplish this task is to tie the end of the line to a bush then walk (with your rod and reel) through your neighbors’ yards until you reach “the end of the line.” Now go back to the starting point and wind the line onto the reel starting from that end.

Now you’ve effectively flipped your line end-to-end with the used part buried forever under the fresh, never-used line. This chore does more than refresh a used fishing line; it helps build your neighbor’s opinion of your frugal character.

Line counter calibration

And if that didn’t impress them, let’s recalibrate your trolling reels, a smart idea which also involves the neighborhood land bank.

To calibrate a line-counter reel, set the counter at zero then have your spouse walk the line out to exactly 100 feet on the counter. Using a reliable tape measure, check the actual length of the line and then compare the counter number against the measured line length.

It doesn’t matter in what sequence you do this. What does matter is that you will then know how much line you’ve actually let out when your counter reads 100 feet.

Keep in mind that the calibration changes with line diameter, spool size, etc. And too, each reel may be different. It’s a good idea to wrap the rod base with a piece of tape and visibly record your findings on the tape.


Now, about those super attractive new lures that you heard calling your name. Set a budget before you get to the lure section of the store. Try not to spend more than double that amount.

Remember, you just visited the shop to check on the arrival of spring, not to completely restock your fishing arsenal.

But golly, you’ve earned a few of those custom-painted deep-divers. A handful of new spinnerbaits can’t hurt either. The ones that attract hungry fish so well that they fight each other for first dibs. Better get more of those.

Other tips

The above pre-game activities should put you in good shape for the early bite. Additional pre-spring tips: Trailer lights not working correctly? A bad ground is the most common problem.

Keep the old spark plugs in your outboard when running out fogging or other rust preventatives used for winter storage. Then install new spark plugs.

Check the guides on every fishing rod for burs or rough spots that can damage fishing line. If you fish Lake Erie, check the expiration date on your emergency flares. The 2020 licenses are on sale now online and at most busy sporting goods stores. Don’t delay.


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.



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