It may be hard to imagine it, but some outdoors folks are just tired of hunting by this time in the long Mississippi season of mega-options. They burned out on deer hunting a month ago, took in a dove hunt or two, shot at some ducks and took the kids on a squirrel hunt.

Everybody is back at work or back in school and well into getting the New Year cranked up full speed ahead.

Yet for many, there is a lingering, gnawing sort of feeling to be doing something outdoorsy. I got just the ticket. Start gearing up for the spring fishing season.

Search and destroy

It's a sad fact that most sportsmen don't take very good care of their outdoor gear. Maybe some of the lady hunters and anglers do a better job of it, but I'm afraid I have seen one too many hunting friend's closets left unattended since last hunting season, and way too many boats pulled into a garage or driveway after the last fishing trip and never touched again. Some forever.

Kerry French of Brandon isn't one of those guys. French is a consummate crappie fisherman on the Ross Barnett Reservoir, and doesn't tolerate gear that doesn't work on demand.

"The first order of business for me is to find all my stuff," he said. "Then the second phase is to throw away everything that is broke, doesn't work anymore, was a bad purchase to start with or that I just don't need.

"I peeled back the boat cover to find one reel with a lost cover. The cover costs nearly as much as a whole new reel, so it's out. There were two rods with tips broken off. Maybe I can get those fixed, but I should consider buying a couple new ones. That goes on the list.

"The trolling motor foot pad switch was sticking, but some Liquid Wrench will fix that. The anchor rope needs replacing and the outboard needs new oil, plugs and the prop edges filed. That goes on the list.

"The more you look, the more you find that needs attention."

However, it's best done now, rather than on a lake one day when the fish are biting.

So, first, check around to lay your hands on all your fishing gear. Put it all in one place and go over everything with a fine-toothed comb. If you own a boat, start there. Some have a designated corner in the garage or other spot in a storage room. Collect it all first, then inspect it all.

That means rods, reels, tackle boxes, electronics, safety gear, PFDs, everything. Toss out stuff that's now junk, set aside what needs repair, maintenance, or otherwise some work or adjustment. Clean and oil anything that needs it.

Regular maintenance

Preventative maintenance is hopefully done ahead of a breakdown with the intent to avoid one if possible. Like the guy on the commercial who didn't put the fuel stabilizer in his boat gas tank at the end of the season. Then come spring the engine won't crank because of bad gas, fouled plugs or dissolved engine sludge now gunked up in the fuel lines, injectors or the carburetor.

Besides regular attention given to the boat and motor, this goes likewise for all fishing gear.

Maybe the boat engine needs a tune up or something fixed. Did it run rough last year? Get new gas, and inspect the fuel lines and plugs. Speaking of plugs, make sure the drain plug in the boat still seals tight. Grease the swiveling boat seats, clean out the livewells, glue down or replace floor carpet, check running lights, engine gauges and any angling electronic equipment. Restock the first aid kit, and inspect the fire extinguisher. Check the gaff, fishing nets, the minnow tank and aerator.

Put new batteries in the flashlights. Charge the main boat and trolling motor batteries, or replace as needed. Clean and tighten the terminals. Perform any needed trailer maintenance, too. Double-check truck hitches and trailer connection wiring including bulbs in all trailer lights. Lube anything that squeaks but isn't supposed to like trailer rollers. Inspect the winch and rope, and grease the gears. Ditto on the trailer jack. Check all the tires for wear and proper inflation as well as the spare. Inspect tie-down ropes and straps.

Rework fishing gear

Despite whenever you might have replaced the line on a reel last, pony up and get new line on every reel. It is a small cost now to avoid losing a great fish later due to a frayed line. Clean and lube the reels. Tighten up crank handles. Go over every rod from handle to tip. Replace broken eyes or rods that are severely cracked. Avoid trouble now.

Open those tackle boxes. Line up favorite lures for hook sharpening, or decide which ones have seen one too many casts. Check worm bags. If they are stuck together in one messy mass, toss them in favor of a fresh selection. Inventory all consumable goods like hooks, sinkers, bobbers, rigging connectors, crappie jigs, etc. Make a list of what to buy and make sure you do.

All of this should make for a nice afternoon in the garage with the door up and maybe a good college hoops game on the radio or a pro-football playoff battle on the portable television. February can be a great time for such things, and just think come March you'll be way ahead of the curve for hitting the lakes or the salt water for another season of Mississippi fishing.

Oh, yeah, don't forget about the boat and trailer permits and licenses, and a new fishing license, too. While you're at it, grab an extra bag of corn meal and some fresh fish seasoning. Those always come in handy.