No doubt I will get several more opportunities to fish before the weather locks me off the lakes, but for the time being I’ve been taking stock of my stuff as it survived the 2017 season.
Overall, things were in pretty good shape as I transferred rods, reels, lures and other tackle and tools from the BassCat’s compartments to my basement workbench and shelves. Remarkable as it seems, everything was pretty much in the right box or bag and all of the reels were still functioning.
What is interesting about the annual review of my fishing gadgets is that I can rather accurately look back at what worked and what didn’t based on the inventory. If a certain stock of lures is depleted, for example, that is the tell that I ought to get more.
Pretty simple, right?
For the first time in many years, I caught a number of largemouth bass on 7-inch ribbon-tail plastic worms. The bags I brought from the boat to the basement were down to one or two worms each.
It’s not that my memory has slipped to where I wouldn’t recall those hot summer days when dragging the worm through stands of aquatic vegetation produced solid strikes and head-shaking jumps from 3-pounders. But it is reassuring to base my restocking on the solid evidence of depleted inventory instead of recollections that may or may not be fanciful.
Who says anglers wouldn’t embellish a fishing story – even in our own minds?
My review of the soft plastics showed not only a hole in my worm inventory, but also depletion in the creature lures. I carry five or six bags of each of my three favorite colors of flipping plastics. This week as I went through the box where I keep them, it had plenty of space for more lures to start 2018.
I’m not much prone to snagging and breaking off hard-body lures like crankbaits, so I finished 2017 only two or three plugs shy of the total I took to the lake in the spring.
But as I checked through the large flat storage box, it was not as neat and orderly as I like. I saw bent treble hooks, scratched bodies, diving lips with big scars and rusty split rings.
I set that box aside for a rainy day this winter to swap in new hooks, retouch some paint jogs and install shiny chrome rings. I’ll also spend a few hours dabbing red nail polish on the shanks of the leading trebles to stoke my confidence that predators key on the imagery of blood when they are deciding whether to strike a lure.
I’d rather be fishing, for sure, but working through my tackle, restocking where needed and brushing up on the details that make each lure even a tiny bit more effective is good for my psyche.
As in many pursuits, the deliberate focus on specifics helps build an advantage. I find that the more time I think about what I did in the past and how I might put that experience to use in the future is helpful.
It’s not just a matter of passing the time with a pleasant chore. It’s about making time to focus on the things – big and small – that help make fishing time productive.
I look forward to a few more days casting for crappie and working the Lake Erie harbors and streams for steelhead. I also expect I’ll catch a bass or two on an upcoming trip to Florida.
But in the meantime, I’m counting worms, putting order back in my tackle system and exercising the fishing section of my brain.