Time to start the off-season preparations
It's still the dead of winter in Northern Wisconsin, but soon the Christmas tree will be coming down, and that means the Fishin Table goes back up and is free to use. It's time to strip all the old line off the reals and get them ready to go for next year. Next it's time for the rods. I check every eye by sliding a cotton swab through it. If the cotton snags, that eye could cause line damage and lost fish. It needs to be repaired or replaced. I've also got a tip that was broken last summer, so it's time to replace that.
Then I will check all of my crankbaits. I pull them on a short line through a bathtub full of water to make sure they run true and the action is correct. If not, I make the necessary adjustments. I also check all of the treble hooks. If any of them are in need of any sort of repair or such, I simply replace them. Hooks are cheap and it's not worth blowing a tournament by not replacing hooks.
For at least a month tackle bags and boxes wil be spread all over our dining room and things like eating dinner are moved into the living room (everything takes a back seat to fishing in our house!). I make lists of everything I have and everything I will need for next summer's season. If I'm running low on any favorite soft plastics or I've lost a few crankbaits or jigs over the last year, I put those all on a list, too. Every angler has their "go to" baits and things they won't hit the water without. For me, those go on the top of the list. Then I start reorganizing all of my tackle. It seems I do this every year because I've come up with a "better way" to organize it over last year.
I also go through all of my terminal tackle. I want to make sure I have enough hooks, swivels, Peg-its, bullet weights, drop shot sinkers, and Suspen-dots to at least make it half way through the season. And I make sure my heavy weights for knocking loose snagged crankbaits are still in my bag. Sometimes they have a funny way of disappearing during a tournament for some reason.
Last but not least, out come the paints. I've saved a few large, square plastic ice cream containers over the winter and pushed the straight bottoms of wire coat hangers through the sides near the tops. This gives me a place to hang my jigs after they've been painted, and I don't have to worry much about the clean-up afterwards. They dry in their little "paint booths", I package them, and throw the ice cream containers away.
Once I'm sure everything I have is ready, there's nothing to do but watch fishing shows, surf for new fishing stuff online... and wait for the ice to come off the lakes. That's the thing about living up north - the season is always too short. Good thing there are so many other things to keep up anglers entertained during those cold months!