Fishing is a lot like being a fireman in that you need to be ready all the time. The last thing you want to do is lose a fish due to faulty gear or tackle. That’s why anglers should take the time to get gear and tackle in top working order.
Experts suggest checking all reels, rods, line and tackle before the season starts and to perform regular maintenance throughout the season.
Give your reels a good cleaning, particularly when the line is off. Grease where directed by manufacturer, often times, the reel is marked where to do this. If instructions are long gone do not hesitate to stop by your local bait or tackle shop to ask where to grease. Do not grease the drag, it is not meant to be greased, if you do, it will not work.
Every other year (or as needed) I have my reels thoroughly cleaned by a bait & tackle shop or by a rod and reel repair expert. The reels are taken apart, cleaned, parts that are broken or worn are replaced and then everything gets put back together.
Dave Morton of Beavertail Rod & Reel (www.beavertailrodandreel.com has been repairing reels for almost twenty years. He is a trained tool & die maker so he has the unique ability to offer customers machining services through his a fullyequipped machine shop. Morton said, “Why purchase a new lower quality reel when you can bring that old reliable reel back to new for less.” Beavertail Rod & Reel repairs all makes and models and can get parts for most of the oldest reels without any problem.
Each year, replace used line. This is a judgment call as to what is meant by “used”. Braid line may still be OK to leave on the reel, however, I usually take off line at the beginning of the reel that shows signs of wear. Experts say to cross braid line when spooling onto conventional reels to prevent the line from digging into the spool when a big fish is on.
I often fish with lead core line that is designed to sink in the water column when trolling for striped bass and bluefish in 20 to 35 feet of water in Narragansett Bay. I re-spool the lead core line putting the used portion on the reel first, this way you use line that is new as most anglers rarely use more than three to four colors (90-120 feet) of line.
Replace all monofilament line on reels at the start of the season. Monofilament line has memory so it creates bird nest tangles when it is old or has been sitting in the cold for a while. Also stretch the line, the first 100 feet (of monofilament line) to relax its memory and avoid tangles.
When you change any type of line it is important to spool tight or the line may slip on the spool. To prevent braided line from slipping on the reel, first spool some monofilament backing to the reel as it will not slip, tie braid line to the monofilament, then spool the braided line onto the reel.
Examine the rods for cracks and stress marks. Closely examine the eyes for chips or cuts on the ceramic rings inside the eyes. These cracks could cause line to snag, rub or break. Do not place hooks on the eyes or they will eventually create cracks that will cut line as it passes through. Place all lures at the base of the reel as those hooked to an eye brace will bang on the rod and may cause microscopic cracks in the rod blank that could lead to a broken rod.
I get tackle ready in chronological order when certain species are fished … in this region that means starting with tautog, then striped bass, bluefish, fluke, sea bass, etc. Make sure you have enough rigs to fish the species. Hooks should be clean and sharp (no rust), and strong enough for the size fish you are going after. Often hooks that come with lures are not quality hooks so I replace them with stronger hooks.
A few years ago I took four of my brother-in-laws fishing. We really hit the summer flounder and sea bass hard, nonstop action for three to four hours, so much so we started to use some of the inferior fluke rings in my tackle box. One of my brother-in-laws hooked into a monster fluke. He brought it to the boat, the fluke saw the net, ran and straightened the hook and the fish was gone. I should have made sure we had plenty of quality tackle in the tackle.
Use wire leaders for bluefish and monofilament or fluorocarbon for striped bass, fluke, sea bass, etc. Blues won’t bite though the wire and other species will find it harder to see the monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders. As a rule I replace all used leaders at the beginning of the season. During the season make sure leaders have no nicks or stress marks from fish pulling. If they do, replace them.
I switched most of my hooks to circle or wide gap hooks, I did this so I can safely catch and release undersized or unwanted fish (particularly striped bass and small summer flounder). Circle hooks are designed to hook the fish at the corner of the mouth and not down in the belly. This year the use of circle hooks is mandatory in Massachusetts when bait fishing for striped bass, they will be mandatory in Rhode Island for striped bass bait fishing in the 2021.
Where’s the bite
Freshwater. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle, North Kingstown said, “Customers have been buying shiners for large and small mouth bass fishing. They seem to be doing pretty good.” At press time still no word on how Rhode Island plans to handle Opening Day of the trout and the freshwater fishing season. DEM has said the season will open Saturday, April 11 but we still do not know if there will be restrictions on fishing as opening day usually draws many people to the shore of waterways in Rhode Island.
Saltwater fishing for cod on party boats in Rhode Island is over. The Frances Fleet and Seven B’s have suspended cod fishing due to coronavirus guidelines. The Island Current left Rhode Island and returned to New York about three weeks ago. Lorraine Danti of Lucky Bait & Tackle, Warren said, “One of our customers said they have been catching scup.” In Rhode Island the scup season is open with a 30 fish/person/day limit, 9-inch minimum size, in special shore areas the minimum size is 8”. Visit www.eregulations.com for special shore areas. Neil Hayes of Quaker Lane Bait & Tackle said, “With the New England Saltwater Fishing Show being cancelled business we have a lot of fishermen coming in to purchase what they might have bought at the show.”
Dave Monti is a charter captain, member of the American Saltwater Guides Association, RISAA, RIPCBA, serves as vice chair of the RIMFC and is a marketing communications practitioner. Forward fishing news & photos to email@example.com, visit www.noflukefishing.com or www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com.
15” scup – Photo D
Lennox Moore with the 15” scup he caught in summer north of the Jamestown Bridge. Anglers are now catching scup in the East Passage, a lot early than ever before.
Sent from my iPhone