Lakecaster Online

By: Sue Crochet

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmas was a blessed one and that 2001 is happy, healthy, and prosperous for you and your family.

With the holidays out of the way, it's time to begin preparing for the fast-approaching spring fishing season. Because of the relatively mild winters we have here in Louisiana, "spring" fishing usually means late January or early February. Some tournament circuits began their 2001 season in December, but most will be having their first tournaments in January or February. This is a good time to clean and repair your equipment and take inventory of your tackle. Also, do you know what was happening on your favorite lake at this time last year? Maybe I can help you out.

First, what does your boat look like? Did you fish your last tournament in October or November, cover it up, and never look at it again? Now's a good time to take the cover off, open the compartments, take everything out, and let it air out. In the meantime, take the prop off the big motor and trolling motor. Check for any line or other obstructions that may have gotten wrapped in them last season. When you put them back on, make sure they're on nice and snug.

Taking your big engine in for an annual tune-up is a preventative maintenance practice that is fairly inexpensive compared to the cost of repairs. Although there are some things that cannot be detected ahead of time, this annual "check-up" will sometimes catch a future problem before it happens. Be sure to take it out for a test run before your first fishing trip or tournament.

Are your electronics (depth finder, chart recorder, water and oil gauges) working properly? There are times when fish can be found only in certain depths of water or around a particular type of structure. For the successful tournament angler, accurate electronics are imperative. Gauges also help to detect small problems with the engine before they become big ones.

How about other things you need to have in the boat? Properly working running lights, a throw cushion, and a fire extinguisher are required by law. You should check the condition of these items and make sure they're mounted in easy-to-get-to spots. Items such as a rope, flashlight, anchor, and paddle can be useful in a tournament, as well as in emergency situations.

I don't know about you, but I keep the following things in my boat at all times, which sometimes need to be replenished or replaced after each fishing season.
Sunscreen Clipper
Lip Balm Scissors
Safety Kit Pliers
Oh, and let's not forget good old toilet tissue!

In addition to cleaning out the compartments, taking your tackle out of the boat will help you to take a better inventory of your tackle. You may want to begin picking up favorite lures that are in short supply for that first trip to the lake. Also, there are some great tackle systems on the market today. If you're having a hard time keeping your lures organized, maybe you could take this time to look at a new way of arranging things in your boat.

Do you have some eyes on a rod or two that need to be re-wrapped or glued? I can't be the only person that's taken a look eye on my rod and continued shoving it back into place or tried to glue it temporarily, until I could take the time to get it to a repair shop. Then, when I get back home or the season's over, I forget all about it! There's no time like right now to get these fixed.

As a tournament angler, it's imperative to have equipment that I can depend on. I have used Allstar rods for years and they just keep "going and going and going .....", like that battery commercial says. If you're in the market for new rods, you may want to give them a try. You'd be hard-pressed to find rods that will perform as consistently or find a manufacturer that will back up their products the way these folks will.

What's going to happen the first time you make a cast? Will a loud, whining noise erupt from your reel? Perhaps the button won't stay pushed in. If you don't how to tear down and clean your own reels, you'd be wise to take them to a reel repair shop for a good cleaning. These folks can replace any worn parts and make sure they're put back together properly. This costs considerably less than purchasing new reels.

On the other hand, if you're in the market for a new reel, there are few on the market today with a better reputation than Shimano. Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of using my first Shimano Chronarch. This little jewel is comfortable in the hand, has an extremely smooth cast, and is incredibly versatile and sturdy for its size. There are several other models and price ranges to choose from, so why don't you give Shimano a try?

In the next issue, I'll give you a run-down on what was happening on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn at this time last year. From year to year, provided lake conditions haven't changed too drastically, some patterns and areas will be more consistent than others. I hope this will help you out.

Oh, one more thing ... do you remember this lady from the November issue? Well, take a look at the fine buck she took in November. Believe it or not, this is Margaret's first deer!

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