Lakecaster Online

Of Bass & Gals
By: Sue Crochet

Happy New Year everyone! I hope the holidays were joyful and that the New Year will bring only good things to all of you.

As of the time I am writing this article, our winter season has been very mild and the fishing has been much like fishing in October … phenomenal! I expect that by the time you are reading this, we will have seen a couple of stronger cold fronts and the fishing will have slowed down quite a bit. If this is even the slightest bit true, in order to catch old "bucket mouth" you'll need to use lures such as light jigs, Texas-rigged worms with a ¼-oz. or smaller slip sinker and plastics fished Wacky style.

The reason for using light weight is because fish are usually suspended at this time of the year. Using lures that are buoyant allows you to keep your lure in the "strike zone" longer. You can move the bait more slowly and still keep it off the bottom. Crank baits and spinner baits can also be very effective. Both can be cranked at varying speeds or "pumped", much the same as when you are working a worm. When fishing in a tournament, these baits are excellent bass locators because they can be retrieved at varying depths with each cast.

Now … this is not to say that the fish won't be on bottom! Depending on the depth of water you're fishing, you may need to allow your lure to rest on the bottom and move it ever so slowly, occasionally giving it a little hop. This is why having some type of fish finding device is important for tournament anglers. The ability to see at what depth the greatest percentage of bass are holding allows you to concentrate your efforts accordingly.

If the weather has you hibernating right now, there are several things you can do to stay busy. Fix yourself a big cup of hot cocoa, then grab your tackle boxes and scatter everything on the floor in front of you. Maybe you've been wanting to reorganize your tackle. There are numerous tackle organizing systems on the market today that make an angler's life much easier. Take stock of your favorite lures and make a list of what needs to be replenished or replaced.

How long has it been since your reels have been cleaned? Some people are great at taking their own reels apart for cleaning and getting them back together in working condition. I'm not one of those people! Some tackle shops are set up for rod and reel repair, but if not, they can direct usually you to someone who can work on your equipment. The cost cleaning can run from $5 - $10 per reel, but if a part needs to be replaced it could run a little more. With the cost of new, quality reels these days, having your reels functioning properly for many years is well worth the expense.

On the other hand, your reels may be like some of mine … ready to be buried. We use our equipment for both salt and fresh water fishing, which can take a toll on reels in particular. A couple of years ago, we purchased our first Shimano Chronarch reels and I have to tell you, I've never used anything finer. Although there are various Shimano reel models that are suitable for different fishing styles (cranking, worming, topwater), the Chronarch seems to have satisfied most of my needs. It is very smooth, fits nicely in the palm of my hand and can cast a "mile" (even in the wind) with no trouble at all. If you're in the market for new reels, be sure to check out the Shimano line.

Do you have a few rods that look like they've seen their better days? If you're a tournament angler, it can be very costly to have a rod break while reeling in a fish. This may be a perfect time to slowly begin replacing them. It's a lot easier on the pocketbook when you replace them one at a time over a period of months, rather than all at once. I've been using All Star rods now for about 15 years and have been very successful with them. If you're looking for quality, performance, versatility and dependability, I recommend All Star.

If you have a boat, it's probably all covered up right now, right? Well, why not take it in for it's annual "check-up"? Most boat dealerships are not very busy at this time of the year. This is a perfect time to have your big engine tuned up, which includes having the lower unit oil changed and checking all filters, inside and outside the motor. Regular tune-ups extend the life of your motor and reduce the risk of having problems when you head up to the lake for that first spring fishing trip.

Take the time to pull the props off both your big motor and trolling motor to check for line or anything else that may have gotten wrapped up in them. Sometimes the obstructions are not big enough to make a significant, noticeable difference in the performance of your motors, but over a period of time, can damage them permanently. This takes very little of your time and can prevent big headaches on what may have been a great fishing day.

Finally, there are a number of things you can do inside your boat. It's a good idea to check your batteries to be sure they're holding a charge. Batteries can go bad while sitting out in the cold and unused for several months. Check out all your electronics to assure they're in good working condition. This includes depth finders, pumping system (bilge and aeration) and gauges. Gauges are very important, particularly when it comes to the performance of your engine. It's not nearly as important to know how fast you're going as it is to know when water pressure to your engine is not adequate.

Some problems are unavoidable. As with any piece of equipment, failure is not always predictable. However, I'll bet if you follow through on some of these tips, you'll have much more enjoyable fishing trips.

· LADIES … The Lake Area Lady Anglers invite you to join them for their first 2002 fishing tournament in February. "Join us for a day of fishing and fun!" Please call (337) 217-9283 or E-Mail cbasskitten2@cs.com for details.

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