January can be a dreadful month for some anglers. You’ve dealt with the holidays, the weather is unpredictable and it’s still a couple of months from the good springtime fishing.
Shake off those January blues and make good use of the downtime by preparing for the year ahead. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Bassmaster Elite Series pro or a local club fisherman, there are important things to do now that will pay off during the upcoming season.
For example, make the mental transition from offseason to fishing season. Begin researching the lakes you plan to fish later this year, do maintenance on reels, check rods for damage and make sure the rod guides are smooth and clean without any nicks that can damage line.
Do your reels wind as smoothly as they did when new? Do you need to clean them or replace last year’s line?
And don’t overlook your lures. I go through each of my utility boxes and eliminate lures that I haven’t used for a few years. If you’re like me, you tend to accumulate a lot of unnecessary stuff during the fishing season. Some work out, others don’t. By eliminating unnecessary tackle, you will become more efficient this year.
I also closely examine my hard baits I plan to carry into the new season. For example, if some of my Rapala Shad Raps have scratches or cracks, I will coat them with clear coat fingernail polish to keep them sealed.
I will also replace any old hooks with the VMC Redline trebles. There are a lot of good hooks available and I’ve used most of them, but these Redlines are the sharpest and strongest I’ve ever used.
I also make a list of the tackle I need. If you’re attending sport and boat shows this winter, carry that list with you. A lot of exhibiting tackle dealers offer special show pricing. They may have those favorite colors and sizes of lures that you may not be able to find later in the fishing season.
You can learn a lot at winter shows. Most of the bigger ones provide seminars from local and national experts. Don’t miss a chance at these shows to ask questions that might lead you to insight on how to catch more fish this summer.
If you fish local lakes, put together fish attractors and get them planted — if it’s legal in your state.
If you’re a traveling tournament angler, look for affordable lodging near the boat ramps you will use and book them quickly while they are available.
And above all, take time to get your body back in fishing shape. If you’re like most of us, you did a lot of lying around watching football games and eating more than you should through the holidays.
It’s time to lose weight, tone up and limber up that casting arm. Spring will be here before you know it.
Will you be ready?