The weather and water are warming up, fishing industry trade shows (like the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach) are over and it is finally time to gear up for fishing season. Gearing up usually necessitates a shopping trip and this is where guys can get just as excited about shopping as the gals. Even if your garage is chock-full of fishing gear, there are new items on the market that might warrant a spot in your garage between fishing trips.
Let’s start with the most important item. Even if the harsh economy has left you with only enough expendable money for one item, buy fresh fishing line. When I see passengers come aboard my charter boat, WaveWalker, with their own reels spooled with aging line I cringe and suggest they use my equipment because it has fresh line and is well-maintained. Old line will often break under pressure, costing you a big fish.
Your fishing line is the only connection between you and the fish. Fishing line, as it ages, comes into contact with many things that all work to break it down and make it weaker. The repeated stress and strain of fighting big fish, rubbing on structure and the side of the boat, sunlight, water, even a fish’s teeth can cause your line to become weak and more likely to break the next time you’re fighting that big fish.
The best approach is a proactive approach. For those of you who don’t fish nearly every day as I do, the best thing to do is carefully examine your line before each trip, look for cuts and abrasions that make your line feel rough. If your reels have been sitting in the garage for a long time or if they spend a lot of time in the sun, take the time to respool them. If you use colored line, check the colorfastness. If the color has faded, chances are it is time to respool to avoid the heartbreak of a lost fish.
Try the new braided lines (like Spiderwire Invisi-Braid) for fishing in the kelp or around rocky structures for rockfish and lingcod. Spool up with fluorocarbon for white seabass, halibut and pelagic gamefish.
Stock up on Berkley Gulp! baits of varying colors and shapes. These surprising artificial baits account for an impressive percentage of the fish we catch aboard the WaveWalker.
Unless your thumb is well-trained to cast conventional reels with only a rare backlash, I suggest you try spinning reels, matched to a rod designed for use with a spinning reel. Such rods have large eyes. Ask your local tackle shop owner to show you the difference. With a spinning outfit, you will be able to cast all day with very few problems.
Buy some new hooks if the ones in your garage are rusty. Make sure you have a good selection of weights. Replace lures that are rusty, bent or otherwise in bad repair.
And, of course, if you don’t already have one, don’t forget to buy a fishing license.
Finally, ask your tackle shop owner what new products are out on the market this year and have proven their fish-catching value. Shopping is the most fun part of gearing up for the season.
Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a new nonprofit group providing seafaring opportunities for those in need.