It’s that time of the year, when the gun and sport shows are in full swing; and I like to hit as few of them on the weekends. There are some great deals at many of the Gun shows and at the Sport shows you’ll have an opportunity to talk with outfitters and guides with many of them having great deals on fishing and hunting expedition.

Other things that are going on or soon will be, is ice fishing calling predators, shed hunting and hopefully not too long in the distant future open water fishing, and if you aren’t into the those things, this time of year can be pretty boring.

As anyone can tell you, I bore easily, so I need something to keep me busy especially during the long cold winter months.

I start looking around, trying to find something to do, and at my office, I have so much “Stuff” in my office, every once and a while I move things around, which gives the office a new look, unfortunately some of the things I moved around are darn hard for me to locate.

Right now, I’m downsizing, selling some of the things I had forgot I had and had forgot about or excess equipment. Man, I didn’t realize how much stuff I had accumulated over the years.

Once I get bored of doing it, I start looking at things I should have taken care of early.

My occupation requires several things that need to be taken care of this part of the year and it isn’t that hard to find something that needs to be worked on, I have a boat, I’m rigging, reels that need new line, camo and ice fishing clothing that need to be washed while others, need to be put away.

Because I’m downsizing my office, I spend a lot of time checking things over, seeing what if anything I should do with it.

I generally start with one of the smaller projects, re-spooling my rods and reels, which can be a big job as I have over 50 rod and reels.

Re-spooling is important, and if you don’t change line regularly, the submerged rocks, weeds and other trash in the waters damages your line. Eventually, these nicks in your line will reduce the break strength of your line and be where the line will break.

Monofilament line will break down eventually, especially if it’s in the sun too long. Another reason to change your line is if you store your rods and reels in a garage where vehicles are stored or started, as your line will pick up the gas /exhaust smell, which could cause the fish to shy away from your line and bait,

I like to change my line, to re-spool my reels on a regular basis, at times, I may only replace a certain amount of the line, where I get down to the line, that hasn’t been off the spool. I tie a good knot, one that won’t slip, a blood knot that works great for tying to pieces of line together.

Another thing that we all should do is when we put our rods and reels away for winter or just to store them, is to back off the drag, as a drag is simply some type of friction washer that slips when a certain amount of pressure is on it.

Since the line coming into your reel will bring water with it, some moisture could very easily make its way to the drag washers and if you store them with the drag tightened up, the moisture on the drag washers can freeze the drag. If this happens, and your friction washers are bonded together, the next time you go fishing, your drag could be froze or locked up, so if you haven’t already loosened your drag on you reels, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get it done.

Other items I like to take care of, is to start going through my tackle bags, cleaning the junk, the spinner, livebait rig and candy wrappers out of them.

Then I start cleaning the muck off my jigs and crankbaits as when changing baits, I don’t spend much time checking my old bait before stashing it in my Plano boxes. It doesn’t take much, just a damp rag and as little hard work, wiping them down and once you have did this, be sure they are dry before putting them away.

Then it’s time to untangling some of my walleye spinners and other live bait rigs I tossed into my bags when I changed lures, it may take some time to straightening them out and figure out just what the heck they are, taking them from a big ball of tangled monofilament, spinners and hooks to individual tackle.

Then, I’ll roll them up and put them on my MAG’S Leader Pack, making them easy to pull off the spool when I’m ready to use them, without ending up with a tangled up mess.

It’s not a bad idea to check the hooks on the baits you’ve been using, making sure that the rust got to them and that they are sharp. On my crankbaits, if the hooks are rusty, bent or rusty, I’ll replace them and depending on the bait, will replace the treble hook with the next size larger hook has a wider gap between the shank and the business end of the hook which allows the fish more room to hook itself.

Crankbaits, in order to work properly need tuning if they run right, using a needle nose pliers, you’d bend the eye slightly to the right and if it runs the other direction, bend it slightly to the left.

You can do this by running the bait along the side of the boat, when you’re fishing or you can do it the easy way, using the Off Shore E-Z Crankbait Tuner. It’s made of high-grade extremely tough nylon, this tool unlike needle nose pliers that can damage the bait; it will properly tune your bait easily.

First, adjust the tension knob, then place the crankbaits short jaw of the line tie with the long jaw against the bill at a 90-degree angle, then squeeze the handle until you hear a click, check the bait and if it is not running right, tighten up the tension and repeat.

On jigs and other baits, I’ll slide the hook along my fingernail and if it doesn’t dig in, I’ll run the hook over a diamond sharpener, touching it up, making sure it’s sharp before putting it away.

To make it easier for me to find the bait I want to use, I have my different types of baits, crankbaits, jigs, live baits and other rigs stored in Plano boxes that fit into my tackle bags, each box labeled on the front and top allowing me to locate what baits I want to use or change quickly.

If you move your tackle bags around as I do, they too could use some tender loving care. I remove everything from them, brush them off, both inside and out and then using hot water, soap and a brush, scrub them down, removing all of the mud and smelly concoctions on them, hang them out of the way to dry and once dry, put them back together, ready for my next fishing trip.

I store these different boxes in a Marine storage box that I store in the back of my vehicle, which allows me to quickly change tactics taking or fish species by removing the boxes from my tackle bag I don’t plan on using, and replace them with the types of bait for the species of fish I’m going after.

Once I’ve went through my numerous tackle bags, I’ll store them on the loading dock in preparation of open water fishing, when I will pull my ice fishing sled, locators, rods and tackle from my pickuup box and replace it with my marine storage box with my warm weather open water fishing tackle.

Once this chore finished, it won’t be long until I have my boat ready, hooking it up behind my pickup and ready to head for the river or some of the reservoirs in South Dakota to spend time fishing the open water.

Gary Howey, Hartington, Nebraska, is a former tournament angler, fishing & hunting guide. Howey is an award winning writer, producer, and broadcaster and inducted into the “National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame” in 2017. He is the Producer-Co-Host of the Outdoorsmen Adventures television series and Outdoor Adventures radio. For more outdoor information, check out, like Gary Howey’s Facebook or watch his shows on

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.