Don't forget to take stock of the offseason



Who among us anglers can't use a little winter therapy and gain a solid sense of accomplishment as the snow flies and the next fishing opportunities seem to be a year away?
If you are like me, your fishing stuff is in shambles after a season of hard use. I ventured down to the basement last weekend and gasped at what I saw.
Over the course of the past season, as I fished nearly 20 different lakes and rivers in five states, my assortment of lures, hooks, weights and other fishing gadgets took quite a beating.
Plastic lizards wormed their way into bags of tubes. Crankbaits crawled into topwater boxes. Jigs ended up in odd nooks and crannies. The various sizes of hooks and weights got jumbled. Things just generally tumbled into disarray.
In addition, the oversized soft-side bag that I toss into the boat for each trip mysteriously ballooned to the point where I was able to work the zipper only with a fair amount of effort.
So it was high time to reorganize.
Actually, the process is a welcome activity when the weather precludes getting out on the water. It is quality time, when reflecting back over the past season delivers great memories and jump-starts thoughts about the upcoming fishing opportunities.
It's really a bit therapeutic.
Intimidating pile
I basically start by dumping the soft-side bag's boxes and loose lures on my work table. At first glance, the pile is intimidating. But as the reorganization advances, progress is quickly evident.
Surprises always crop up. Oh, there's that bag of worms I couldn't find last summer! Ah, now I remember I put the Bomber in with the Normans! Yikes, there's the 15 Lucky Craft Sammy I borrowed from Steve!
Sorting also is time to reduce the load. By the time autumn rolls around, my tackle bag is straining the canvas strap to its break point. Each trip, when I add a bag of plastics or a handful of chartreuse crankbaits, the satchel swells.
It's a good idea to remove from your day-to-day tackle any lure that did not see use last year. If, for instance, you never throw topwater plugs, why carry them? If you never fish motor oil-colored lizards, then get rid of them. If you avoid any spinnerbaits other that tandem willowleaf models, remove the Colorado-blade versions.
Perfect lure
Selecting the baits for the upcoming year based on what worked for you last year will go a long way to reducing the weight of your tackle. But the best benefit is it makes finding the perfect lure is so much easier since you won't have to rummage through the piles.
I store hard-body baits as well as hooks and weights in the rectangular clear plastic boxes that can be stacked in the soft-side bag. So, while I'm in the process of sorting and selecting, I take a few moments to wipe the boxes clean inside and out.
Admittedly, it can be difficult to make all the right decisions about stocking up for the upcoming season. That's when I might err a little on the side of keeping a lure that I think may work, but I am not totally convinced.
And thus the bag starts to get heavy again -- even before the first cast in March.
jwwollitz@aol.com

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