It's cold. It's snowy. The ice is bad. What's an angler to do?
Sure, tomorrow you can watch the NFL conference championship games on TV. But if today looks as though it will drag, here are a few ideas to put you in a fishing frame of mind:
Take stock of your fishing line. Monofilament deteriorates, so discard anything you didn't buy in 2004. Buy fresh filler spools, strip your reels and refill with new line for your first casts of 2005.
Clean your rods. A sponge bath with soapy water will remove the crud from the blanks and cork handles. If the handles are stained, try a light rub with ultra fine sandpaper. But be careful so you don't sand off too much cork.
Wax the rod blanks. Buff on a few squirts of Pledge furniture polish with a soft rag. The rods will look great and sport a bit of extra protection.
Clean and oil your reels. An hour or two of maintenance now will save aggravation this spring. Do not use WD-40 or similar "penetrating" oils, as they contribute to wear more than prevent it. Instead, use oil refined for reels or other fine machinery.
Examine your crankbaits and other treble-hook lures. Replace all rusty or damaged hooks with new ones.
Make sure everything in your tackle satchel is ready for immediate use on the water. Crack the paint from jig eyelets. Spiff up your lures' skirts. Touch up cracks in the finish of wooden lures with clear nail polish. Replace sprung O-rings.
While you are at it, sort out the stuff you aren't likely to use. Cutting down on the clutter in your tackle boxes will save precious time on the water, time better spent fishing than looking for a particular bait or replacing a seized-up reel.
Success on the water depends to a large degree on anglers' preparation and execution. Many fishing factors are beyond your control, but those you can manage should receive extra attention.
Manageable factors include your line, rods, reels and lures. Take care of them now and they'll take care of you out on the lake.