While putting away my cleaned-up deer camp coolers in the garage last month, I noticed my stack of fishing rods and reels leaning up in the corner.

They were covered with dust and lint from the clothes dryer that vents into the garage. I knew it was time to get all my fishing gear out for inspection, cleaning and servicing ahead of the coming fishing season. 

Then, in a conversation with another angler, I confirmed I wasn’t the only one who tends to put off getting fishing gear ready for the upcoming crappie, bass and catfishing season.

So, if you fall into this category, too, now is the time to retrieve your fishing gear from wherever it is hidden and get it prepped for spring fishing.

Delayed action

“Guilty as charged, I guess,” Vicksburg’s Ben Harper said. “Everything happens so fast these days. We wrap up the final fishing around my house about the time we start thinking about getting ready for deer season last fall. I start concentrating on finding hunting stands and repairing, painting and then getting them into the woods. Then there is all the hunting gear to get ready to go, too. Oh, yeah, in between I go to college, too.” 

“I like to get in some shooting practice with my deer rifles before the season opens, and then get all the clothes, boots and gear ready. In the rush for all that, my dad, brother and I just pile up the fishing gear without a final clean-up or inspection, and so it goes.” 

“Then, as soon as deer season is over, we finish up with some small-game hunting for rabbits or squirrel as the cold weather continues. I keep glancing over to the area in the garage where the fishing equipment sits, so I know the season is fast approaching. Then I want to go fishing. The cycle starts all over again.”

Time for action

“When guys at school start talking about catching a few white perch in some of the area lakes around Hinds and Warren Counties, the urge starts to take over,” Harper said. “Our routine is to grab up all the poles, rods, reels and tackle boxes to lay it all out to take a sort of inventory again.

“Each rod is inspected, especially the tips and eyes to make sure nothing got busted off last year. I can fix about anything, but sometimes a piece of sporting gear has just seen its last day. If a rod is past use, then it gets tossed. Then I have to decide if it really needs to be replaced.

“Next comes each reel. I flush each one with clean water to start with. After they thoroughly dry in the sun, I pull the covers to see what gunk is on the inside. Most of the time I can use an old toothbrush, along with a pressured air hose to blast out all the grim, dust and dirt from the spools and gears. That doesn’t take too long, but it all has to be done.

“Once the internals of the reels are clean, then I use a good reel grease to lubricate the spool shaft and the reel gears. I usually put a dab on the retrieval handle, too. This slickens everything up and also helps deter corrosion some.

“When the spools are off is when I inspect the line or make decisions about what line test I might want on which rig to use for different kinds of fishing. I rig up rods and reels just for crappie, and then others for bass or for heavy duty catfishing. I try to get one or two rigs each for me, dad and my brother Jay.”

Tackle the tackle

“Now comes the real work,” Harper said. “We have several tackle boxes rigged out for the different kinds of fishing we do. Sometimes I almost hate to open the lids, because I know the insides are likely to be a jumbled mess. There will be little packs of half empty hooks, weights, swivels and a mass of lures usually tangled with hooks wrapped up like pretzels. Some of the crappie jigs will be stuck together like Super Glue. Each tackle box has to be worked over from top to bottom.

“During the process, we try to make mental notes about what tackle gear needs to be bought fresh again. That means a trip to the store to resupply on all sorts of stuff to have backup once we get in the boat and start fishing. It is all just part of the annual process.” 

Good fishing luck seems to come from having everything prepared and ready to go. So gather up your fishing gear and give it all a going-over.

Then, when you hit the lake, you won’t be hunting for a bag of hooks or wondering why your favorite fishing reel won’t retrieve the line.