Jan/Feb 2015

Jan/Feb 2015
Jan/Feb 2015
Jan/Feb 2015
Jan/Feb 2015
Jan/Feb 2015
Jan/Feb 2015

My Pre-Season Project That Pays Off
Larry E. Stefanyk

Winter on the west coast doesn't necessarily mean that Island anglers go into hibernation. There is steelheading and for those with saltwater accessible, winter Chinooks and bottom fishing.

However, should the weather turn downright nasty we are occasionally forced to curtail our fishing activities, evertheless, there are still many fisherly things to do: angling magazines or books to catch up on, flies to be tied, lures to make, felt soles to be glued to wader soles... and an excellent time to give your tackle a probably much-needed cleaning and overhaul.

When used in salt water, a reel's two best friends are fresh water and lubricants. When finished fishing, simply rinse it with running fresh water to wash off the accumulated salt. Give it a good shake and turn the handle a few times, then set it aside to dry. Do this ever time after saltwater exposure.

Reels, whether single-action models or multipliers loaded with level-wind, free-spool, anti-backlash, multi-drag are mechanical devices that require regular maintenance to keep them functioning properly and reduce wear on moving
parts. Oil and grease reduce friction between moving parts. A reel that chirps like a lovesick canary whenever the handle is turned is telling you that something lacks lubrication and is wearing out.

Single-action reels are easiest to maintain. A drop or two of oil on the shaft and one on each of the handle knobs will usually guarantee smooth operation throughout the day. Avoid getting oil on any drag washers as this will cause uneven tension.

On spinning or multiplier reels, a single drop of oil daily at each of the prescribed points should keep things running smoothly. Don't use too much oil. It will leak out and make a mess. Worse, it attracts dust, which can lead to excessive wear
during use.

This winter works project is a good time to remove the sideplate and reveal the internal gearing. If the grease is drying out or in need of replacing, clean out the old stuff and replace it with proper reel grease. Some petroleum-based grease will liquefy and leak out during hot weather, and will freeze solid during cold weather. Other types may "channel," meaning the gears are surrounded by grease, but none is on the mating surfaces. By using grease made specifically for reels you avoid these problems, I use Super Lube –Sportsman’s Kit Synthetic Lubricant.

The most common abuse is storing rods and reels in direct sunlight while not in use. Heat and ultraviolet radiation both have detrimental effects on nylon. It is standard practice to store rods where they are out of the way, yet handy enough to
grab on short notice. In small boats they are laid along the seats or propped in the bow. On boats with centre consoles, upright rod holders are popular, and on those with cabins they are usually laid on top. This is fine for day-to-day fishing, but when not in use the line should be protected from sunlight, either by stowing the reel inside the cabin, or simply tying a cloth bag over it.

What with non-metal ferrules, graphite reel seats, anodized metal guides with ceramic rings, and ultra-tough epoxy thread coatings, modern rods require little maintenance. However, if you are using an older model with metal guides, ferrules and reel seat, the fresh water rinse should be automatic after a day on the saltwater.

Wipe over the metal parts with a soft rag that has been slightly moistened with a very small amount of light oil. The key words are "small amount." After placing a half dozen drops on a piece of cotton flannel, twist it tightly to disperse the oil. After wiping the metal parts, polish it dry with a clean cloth -- especially inside the female ferrule.

Metal guides should be checked for wear or damage. The easiest way is to pull a small piece of absorbent cotton through the guide ring. If there are any cracks or rough spots, strands of cotton will catch on them. Tip guides are usually first to go, but the remainder are seldom far behind. The best replacements are those utilizing ceramic rings.

Ceramic guides don't wear out, but they can be damaged. The most common problem is the ceramic ring popping out of the metal frame. If the frame is not damaged, the ring can usually be replaced by gluing it in position with epoxy cement.

Folks who eagerly spend small fortunes on rods and reels often try to go through their entire lifetimes using the same spool of line. Improvements in the strength, diameter, limpness and abrasion resistance of nylon monofilaments have been nothing short of outstanding, nevertheless, it does wear out – and sometimes faster than it should. As most line problems are caused by abrasion and cuts, it should be checked periodically during use, particularly if rough-lipped fish like bass or rockfish are being caught. Dogfish have mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth, but dogfish go one better by having a hide like sandpaper that can ruin several feet of line if they roll up in it.

Throughout the season, a line is often cut back or broken off, which decreases its level on the spool. Eventually, casting or trolling efficiency is affected, replace the line. Every new season replace your line especially if you have been saltwater fishing and fishing deep.

Tackle Box
Perhaps the most neglected piece of equipment is the tackle box. Do any of the following sound familiar? Rusty hooks? Swivels covered with a grimy coating of grey powder? Tangled clumps of leader material? Metal spoons, spinners and dodgers, their dull surfaces pockmarked with ringworms of green corrosion? Plastic lures and plugs with once-shiny bodies now scratched and crusted with dirt?

The simplest way to refurbish and replenish the contents of a tackle box is to empty it onto a table. Next, wipe down the interior of the box with a damp sponge or cloth. The accumulated grunge will surprise you.

Throw out all hooks which are rusted, even a little bit. Soak swivels, bead chains and lures in warm, soapy water. Wash off any obvious dirt, rinse with cold water, then set everything on folded newspaper to dry.

If the swivels are Sampo, Berkley or similar ball-bearing types, a tiny drop of oil directed into the bearing race will ensure they work properly. Use a hypodermic needle oiler and wipe off any excess.

Some lures, such as Hot Spot Apex are sold rigged with a leader and swivel. If a leader feels frayed or nicked, replace it with monofilament that matches the original in diameter and length. Plastic plugs can often be cleaned with a good household detergent, failing this, you may have to replace. Of metal cleaners and polishes, the best I have ever encountered is Flitz, a fairly expensive and often hard-to-find import from Germany. However, a little goes a long way.

Finally, jot down a list of what is missing or in short supply and restock your tackle box at the first opportunity.

This winter works project accomplishes two things: it keeps you occupied for the better part of a day when you would rather be fishing, and it ensures that for at least one day each season you will be properly prepared.


Huxley’s Run: 

There is an unwritten rule in fishing. When fishing with anglers of equal or lesser abilities, enjoy the moment and don’t make fun of anyone. When fishing with anglers of superior abilities, try as hard as hell not to make a mistake.
And so it was I found myself fishing with Dan and Rick, two anglers of superior talent aboard Rick’s new boat in Plumper Bay in pursuit of sockeye Sunday.
I am no stranger to down rigger fishing, having spent many hours under the watchful eye of Ed Schmuland. Yet when Rick and Dan started putting the lines out, their motions so fluid, so experienced, so quick, I happily took the wheel instead. But, as is the case when the fishing is on, it was eventually my turn to put a line out.
I asked a few questions as to how far the gear should be out and then proceeded to set up. And then let the down rigger down. The down rigger is an apparatus with a big lead ball at the end of the wire line that gets your gear down to preferred depths. There’s a handle which you release to let the ball drop and it should be done at a steady pace, so the gear doesn’t trail too close and get wrapped up. Or the cannon ball doesn’t plummet downwards and snap off.
The first few feet went well and then, well, had there been an enemy submarine in the area, I would have holed it. That cannon ball zipped downwards like the actuals in a provincial budget forecast.
“Easy there,” said Rick quietly, but the inference was clear. “Don’t break any more of my stuff!”
My first mistake. But I sucked it up, got the lines out, and lost some fish as it is to do with sockeye fishing. In fact I was performing so well that the edge went off and my usual calm, patient and humble self took over.
“This must be the biggest sockeye ever,” I quietly yelled as the rod bucked. “Stand back, I may have to gaff it to save it from breaking some of our bones when we get it on board!”
Dan and Rick were impressed and excited and showed it by leaning on one foot, then the other and rolling their eyes at each other.
“On second thought, get the harpoon!” I said. “We’ll put a couple of floats into this monster and let it wear itself out before we let it even near the boat.”
With that Rick opened the back deck door, grabbed the flasher and dragged my thrashing whale into the hold.
And that’s when the good chaps from the DFO showed up in their zodiac. I suggested to Dan and Rick that they had probably witnessed my titanic battle with the monster sockeye and were going to ask my okay for the department to use it as a promotional video for the government. Rick and Dan agreed that must be why they sidled up to our boat.
“I really hope you brought your licence…this time,” said Rick, remembering another occasion or two when I hadn’t. But this time I had one up on him. Of course I brought my licence! Did he think I was an idiot?
As the trio of DFO officers started to ask a few questions, I thought of interrupting their polite discourse by saying that, yes, they could use the video of me catching that sockeye. Stop the pretense. Then the young officer held out his hand and said, “Your licence sir?” I had thought at first perhaps he wanted my autograph or something and then realized he actually wanted to check my licence.
I put aside my disdain just then. Obviously this handsome young man didn’t know to whom he talked — who was the greatest angler on earth, one who had just subdued the largest sockeye ever caught on rod and line. The fish had to be at least five pounds and I thought of holding it up to him, right under his nose and letting him truly understand the royalty in whose presence he was in.
“Your licence sir?” he persisted.
I must admit I found it comical. But I did not chuckle at his youthful exuberance as I reached into my pocket and pulled out the packet with both my fresh water and salt water licences, complete with retention tags. I, of course, being of such stature and good grace, begrudged him nothing. He had, after all, a job to do.
He took my packet and immediately said, “these look old.”
To which I answered, with unbelievable self control, “Yes, I bought them in April as I always do.” The joke was lost on him. He looked down at the licences and I thought he was going to look up and, now, at last, ask for an autograph.
Instead he said, “No sir, they are old. These are last year’s licences.”
I immediately looked to Rick and Dan for solace, but they had turned their backs, pretending to busy themselves doing something. I heard murmurs from them like, “Don’t know him, castaway, just drifted into our boat” and “we were thinking of using him for bait” and then I realized there was only one thing an honourable man like me could to.
I would take a cannon ball in one hand, the monster sockeye in the other, find the gang plank and, in double time, walk it.


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