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Last updateMon, 27 Nov 2017 12am

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Before you go fishing….

The recent GLORIOUS warm weather has many of us with a fishing itch; I cannot wait to wet a line. Normally, that has been checked off my new list for the year by now, but given the ice, snow and cold, I did not even bother yet.

However, I did venture out to the shed to look over my fishing gear over the weekend. I realized that there would not be a quick dash to the shed for gear and a run to the river or pond to fish until I take care of a few things.

The cold weather has stiffened the primer bulb on my boat to rock solid, and it does not flex at all; that will need be fixed. While not a hard thing to take care of, it will take a few minutes and a run to the parts store to get a new one. Take a look at yours to be sure it is good to go. I would also recommend taking a look at your fuel, and see if any water is in it from condensation. Change filters on fuel lines, and check hoses for cracks, splitting or dry rot. I think a check of the spark plugs would be a good idea, too.

I would also check boat lines (rope) for fraying and dry rot, as well. Sometimes cold weather will do funny things to rope that has been in the sun for awhile. I thought my ropes looked OK last fall, but now some of them definitely need to be replaced.

Last fall, I also put my rods away in good shape. Well, the line on most of them has gotten stiff, and some is frayed and needs to be replaced, as well. If you have spinning reels, you might want to try out the new Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon XL by Berkley. This line flexes like mono and is super strong. My first impressions of it are very good.
I also noticed the reels I use in the Potomac River, although rinsed off well, still show some rust and corrosion. The bearings in several need greasing, too. I think an afternoon or evening with some oil and light grease will fix this situation.

I also took a look at the eyes on my rods and found some crusty from salt buildup. A good hosing and toothbrushing will fix the issue; but again, that takes time.

A look in my crappie box showed some stiffened grubs that need to be tossed out. I found shortages on some jig heads and some need repainting, too. My other boxes have tangled hooks and lures. Another hour or so will take care of the problem. I sure wish I had noticed this on some of those nasty, snowy days. I could have done these chores then.

I would also take a hard look at boat and trolling motor batteries. Mine are kept on a trickle charger, but I noticed one of my batteries went dead pretty fast after I took it off the trickle charger. I am hoping I can revive it, but it is two years old, and the cold was hard on batteries this winter.

I think I mentioned in a recent article about checking the status of life jackets and other safety items. Check them again, and make sure they are in the proper place. I know that during the fall, I shove the boat in its spot and grab my crossbow or gun and head to the woods. Little time is spent properly putting things away when the fall fishing is good and bleeds into my hunting time.

I am also reminding you all to check your fishing licenses. Many of us now buy our licenses in the spring, as they last a full year. I also encourage you to get your saltwater registry number or FIP (Fisherman Identification Program) number. This is necessary for anyone fishing tidal water, even if you do not need to buy a license. The only exceptions I am able to find are if you are younger than 16 years of age, OR if you have chartered a licensed charter boat to fish. If you purchased a SALTWATER license or saltwater boat license through PRFC (Potomac River Fisheries Commission) or VMRC (Virginia Marine Resources Commission), you are covered. Otherwise, you must register. I have heard of tickets being written by VMRC officers for not having this number. It is FREE, and you can go online to register for it at: http://www.mrc.virginia.gov/FIP/index.shtm. You can also call them at 1-800-723-2728.

One last thing: If you fish on the Potomac River, you need to get the Maryland number. They allow registration through their website at: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/swregistry.asp.

Remember, the first fishing trip is often one of trial and error to get back into the swing of things. Many of us have not cast a line for months. Look behind you, around you and so on, before hooking your buddy! Have your stuff ready to go before blocking the boat ramp, and be courteous on the water. Keep safety in mind this year.

Mark Fike

 

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