It has been one of the harshest winters in recent history here in the Midwest, and the long term forecast is showing no sign of warmer weather. This prolonged cold funk we are in has many anglers itching to get their boats back on the water! While we have no control over when spring will finally arrive, we can still soothe our spring fever by preparing for the upcoming open water season.
Mid-winter is the perfect time of year to go through your fishing gear to prepare yourself for a successful upcoming fishing season. Organizing your tackle now will save you valuable time on the water this spring. It is also a great time to re-spool reels, clean and lube your reels, tune up planer boards, and even do an inventory on what you need to purchase for the upcoming season. I also like to use safety pins to keep my spinner blades together and organized. When a hot color is determined, it works great to have all of that certain color on one safety pin rather than having them scattered throughout an entire box of blades!
Going through your crankbait boxes and getting your lures all back into their proper places is a great idea, as is checking hook sharpness, and noting any particular baits you would like to stock up on for the year. I also like to write the depth curve for each lure right on the box, which allows you to simply glance at the box and determine how much line to let out to achieve your desired depth in the water column. Having this information right on the box removes any guess work, and also makes it easier to key in on depth patterns.
Winter is also a great time to tie up leaders and harnesses that you plan on using this upcoming season. Going through your harnesses from the prior year and re-tying ones that have been used heavily is a great idea, as the slightest knick in the line could lead to a lost fish this spring. I also like to look at what colors worked for me the past year, and come up with new color patterns to add to the arsenal. Tying up leaders now will save you time on the water as well when you need to change a leader on the water. I like to have different pound test leaders ready for different situations that may call for a lighter or heavier leader.
Custom painting of jigs and lures has become a common practice today, and there really is no better time to work on your painting skills then right now! Air brushes have become more economical to purchase, which has opened the door to making your own favorite color combinations on any lure a reality. Practice makes perfect with this art, so I suggest practicing on old lures prior to painting up your favorites. Making your own jigs can save you lots of money and allow you to create the sizes and colors you need. I recommend purchasing quality hooks for your jigs, as the hook really makes the jig!
For those tournament anglers out there, mid-winter is prime time to determine what tournaments to fish this upcoming season, and then start mentally preparing yourself for each event. Looking back at past tournaments held at the same time of year on that body of water to determine what worked in the past will get you thinking of what you hope to do to finish at the top! It is also a great time to pursue sponsors as well as attend fishing shows and seminars to represent your sponsors.
I also like to set specific goals for the upcoming season, since having goals for your season will allow you to prepare yourself to meet those goals. Without having specific goals for the year, it is really easy to wind up disappointed in your fishing trips. Preparation is the key for having a successful day on the water, and beginning your preparations early will give you the best chance at meeting those goals and catching fish!
Examples of goals might be to try and learn a new body of water, catch a 30” Walleye, win a tournament, learn a new technique, or even to enjoy time on the water with your family. Goals are a great way of succeeding not only on the water, but in life in general.
If you have access to your boat, now is also a great time to charge up those batteries, organize your gear, mount new electronics, and even think about the layout. Adding brackets for rod holders, organizing that cluttered glove box or compartments, and doing any other maintenance to the boat now will save time later.
The next time you get that spring fishing fever, remember there are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for that maiden voyage of the year!