Preparing For The Coming Game Fishing Season
It is important to thoroughly check out all your gear after a winter in storage, "Murphy's Law" says the one article you overlook will let you down at the crucial moment when fighting that fish of a life time - unfortunately "Murphy" is usually right.
By the time this edition of Tasmanian Fishing and Boating News goes to press the coming game fishing season will be almost upon us. At the time of writing this article the 18-19 degree water currents that we all wait for were level with the northern tip of Flinders Island, an almost certain indication that the game season will get under way a lot earlier than would normally be expected.
Time to pull out the tackle and brush off the cobwebs in preparation for what promises to be an excellent season.
The majority of anglers are fully aware of the importance of pre season maintenance and what to look for, however, the following few pointers are more for the not so experienced with the hope that they will not suffer the disappointment of tackle failure this season.
So, what do you look for?
RODS - First ensure that the reel seat is tight with no sign of twisting - any movement here and it is time to invest in a new rod, don't even bother trying to repair it, as it will almost certainly fail you under load.
Having done this, then ensure that any roller style eyes are running smoothly and that there are no signs of uneven ware, a sure sign the roller has not been performing as it should and may require replacing; standard style eyes found to be cracked should definitely be replaced. Also, when checking the eyes make sure the bindings have not been damaged, if so, they may require re-binding to ensure they don't break way when the rod is fully loaded.
REELS - Whilst not in use, your reels should always be stored with the drag backed right off to allow the drag washers to relax and ensure they do not fuse causing a locked drag. The exception to the rule is when transporting them in the rod holders whilst at sea where they are prone to salt water spray. At times like this the drag should be fully engaged to ensure that should any water get into the reel it cannot enter between the drag washers
( this is also advisable when washing reels down).
Check your drag by engaging it, hold the spool and turn the handle to create friction or have an assistant pull line against the drag while you turn the reel handle. Do this 5 to 10 times at different settings to ensure the drag is operating smoothly and evenly.
This is also a great way to warm up the drag plates prior to pre setting your drag when heading off fishing. Drag settings will increase as the drag warms up so those set with cold drag plates will more than likely cause an early bust-off during a fight if not compensated for, easy answer, warm the drag first then set it at 25% of the breaking strain of the line for the "strike" position.
Should you have any doubts about your reels performance it would be wise to take it to your nearest tackle dealer and get him to have a look at it. He will be able to advise you whether it needs servicing or not and can arrange for it to be done by an authorized repairer.
Note:- You should not attempt to dismantle your own reel if it is covered by warranty as this may void the warranty.
LINE - It is imperative that you carefully check your line for signs of wear, in particular the first 20 metres or so. It is often advisable to remove this piece altogether as it is the most likely piece to be damaged. You should also re-tie your double, either a plait or Bimini twist, whichever you find easiest to tie and also replace any swivels you may be running as these are sure to be at less than their best after a long period in storage.
If your line is more than a couple of seasons old and you are going to target bigger fish you would be well advised to consider replacing it altogether. I would suggest a good quality fluro coloured line that is easy to see in order that you can easily tell if any lines have crossed over when trolling.
TRACES & HOOKS - So many people go to all the trouble of checking out their rods and reels but then overlook their traces and hooks. Off to sea they go in search of fish and out of the tackle box comes the favourite lure that served them well the year before, still rigged up ready to go with the same old trace that has probably caught goodness knows how many fish and the same old hook that has never been sharpened from new, a sure recipe for disappointment. If the trace has any signs of abrasion replace it and if you don't have one, ask your local tackle store for a good quality hook sharpener and brush those hooks up. As a guide, the hook should bite into your thumbnail quite easily when dragged across if it is sharp enough, the easier it digs in the better.
LURES - Everybody has their pet lure, the one that has caught the most fish or the biggest fish or whatever. Many will fondly remember the popular Saltshaker range of lures that produced a "smoke trail" through the water second to none and those of us who used them were devastated when they went off the market, however, the great news is that they are back and what's more exciting for the Albacore enthusiast is that there is now a baby one in the range called the Saltshaker #4 - look out for them at major tackle stores, they are deadly.
The other bit of exciting news for the Bluefin and Yellowfin enthusiast's in particular is the introduction of a new range of lures called Exocets. These are set to create all sorts of havoc amongst the pelagic heavyweights and those fisho's that have already seen them predict that they will be one of the hottest lures to come on the market in a long time, have a look - seeing is believing.
Having done all this you are now set for a great season, don't forget to check your safety equipment and ensure there are life jackets for everyone on board, the laws governing life-jackets come into effect as of 1st January 2001 and require all persons in a boat under power to be wearing one - failure to do so means another $50.00 in the Governments coffers so you can bet they will be policing it heavily!!
Good luck and may you catch that fish of a lifetime.