December is a tough month for anglers. The truth is the bite isn't as good as it will be in January, and with all the holidays and family activities, it's a great time to take a break and organize your tackle. That way when you do start fishing after the New Year's holiday you won't waste time messing around doing things that should already be done.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you can't catch bass flipping and pitching in December because you certainly can. That's especially true for those of you who live in the South. I'm just saying if you're going to take a break, this is a good time to do it.
The first thing I do is look over all my rods. I check everything for damage or wear. If they need something, I get to work on it. Some things you can repair or replace yourself, for others you'll need professional help.
I do the same thing with my reels. All of them are taken apart, oiled and greased as necessary, and then put back together. Ardent has a complete line of reel repair and maintenance products that'll help you do this — the right way. I suggest you check them out and get what you need before you start.
Then it's time to review my hook and sinker situation. Over the years I've learned that asthey're jostled around in their storage boxes the hook points can get dull and the finish on my sinkers lose their luster.
As a professional angler fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series I replace everything with brand-new. That's probably a little extreme for most recreational anglers. Nevertheless, you should at least clean, shine and sharpen everything.
After that, I give a lot of thought to where I'll be fishing in the next year. I think about the size fish I'm likely to catch, the forage base in that particular lake or river, the season I'll be fishing a particular venue, what the cover and structure situation is like and what weather and water conditions I'm likely to face.
This helps me choose what plastics I'll need. I fish only with Strike King products. They have something for everything, so I don't need to go anywhere else. But I'm not going to be fishing everywhere, so I have to cull my baits. I do that based on what I'm likely to need. Besides, if I carried everything they make, in every color they make, my boat would sink.
After all that, it's time to order my jigs. I do that exactly like I do my plastics — pick what I'm likely to need and order them from Strike King. Once they arrive, it's time for me to go to work making whatever modifications will be necessary.
The first thing I do is make sure the eyes are open and smooth. Any jig that's mass-produced will have the occasional eye covered over with paint. I remove it with one of the pop-out tools on the market.
After that, I clear away any remaining paint with the point of my scissors — stick the point in the hole and gently rub it around the inside of the metal. The operative word here is gently. Don't scuff or cut the eye as you clean it. That defeats the purpose.
Finally, smooth everything with 25-pound-test braid line. I pull it back and forth inside the eye until the metal is polished baby-butt smooth. That's the only way you can be sure you won't have problems next year.
Once that's completed, I trim all my skirts exactly the way I like them and put everything away in my storage boxes. Everybody has an opinion about the best way to organize lures. I believe in doing it the way that works best for you. In the end, the only thing that matters is that you are able to find what you want, when you want it, without wasting time.
Next month we'll catch some heavyweight prespawn bass.