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Getting ready for next new season begins well before your last fishing trip of the year. Making a mental list of what could be done to improve your odds of accomplishment and mechanical well being during the long winter lay-up months, is a good start. This will eliminate a ton of massive grief...................hopefully! Checking the most crucial part of the rolling stock, like maybe a new set of trailer tires, repacking the trailer bearings more often and having your outdrive professionally aligned and greased can save you a bundle of your hard earned cash in the long haul. Not to mention the gain of recreational time on the water, rather that wrenching on equipment during the peak of the August Salmon run.
The simple fact is, that tackling the
Great Lakes is by no means an inexpensive proposition and getting the
most for the least expenditure is just common cents.
Were you happy with the amount of fish caught per outing last season? If so, you're one of the lucky few or you're willing accept the status quo. Resting on your laurels from last year don't count, what you can do in the new season, does. Or, possibly you're content in picking off a few stragglers, rather than laying waste to the entire herd. We all have different expectations when it comes to fishing.
Improving your catch rate can come in many ways. Attending seminars by well known Great Lakes anglers like Bill Bale and Dave Engles is a smart move. I know each of them personally and they can put you on the right track. While I don't respect many outdoor writers because they don't make their living from fishing, Mike Gnatkowski does and relays his message in an informative manner. If you're ever lucky enough to see Pete "Pedro" Ruboyaines doing an "on stage" presentation be ultra sure to attend. Pete is a natural at passing on great information. The upcoming spring sport show circuit might offer you the venue to see these fishermen and have them share their vast amount of knowledge with you.
Considering joining your area chapter of the Steelheaders is a good idea. For the most part the experienced Captains are more than willing to share the past experiences with you. My personal experiences with the Flint River Valley, Metro West and Detroit Area chapters are very positive ones. At the monthly meetings the quality of the guest speaker might surprise you. At the Benzie County chapter I once had the opportunity to speak with the Director of the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Books or Magazines do offer another avenue to gaining knowledge. Tom Huggler's "Fish the Michigan" about the ports around the Great Lakes is a must have. Tom's book offer insight into every port in Michigan along with charts, complete with depth readings. Any books by the identical twins, Dave or George Richey warrant a look see. I credit my long term friendship with George making me a very accomplished attractor fisherman and taking the mystery out of my dodger program. George has been manufacturing trolling flies since the 70's and makes the best quality trolling fly on the market. Dave who I consider the leading mid-west Outdoor Writer has a infinite amount of knowledge in all neighborhoods of our Great Lakes Fishery.
Maybe considering a charter trip with your local charter operator isn't a bad idea either. Much can be gained from those trying to make a living from your desired port you wish to key on. Charter rates are more than reasonable when considering the cost of equipment and the hoops you have to jump through just to be in the charter business. Specific port knowledge of the best lures and setups is what you're after and be sure to relay that fact to the Captain before booking the trip.
Your budget comes into play and purchasing that new graph or downrigger temp and speed sensor might be in order. Spend your money only once by buying the premium product with the best reputation is the way to go. Buying something cheap and maybe problematic only requires a second purchase of the right stuff in the long run. I know about the last statement personally, because you name it and I've bought it, in my quest to find the magic bullet. Hint?.......it don't exist.
New seats or canvas might save you some
long green on an over-priced new boat. Thinking about a new set of
downriggers, or maybe some new diver rods might be in order too.
Updating electronics will always be a help, especially if you're not
seeing what's under your boat. Please keep in mind, it's a lot
cheaper to renew and redo your old rig, rather than shelling out 30 to
50k for a new vessel. If you're in the market for a new
is the time to shop for used boats, not in May or June when the prices
goes up, because the boating season is in full swing.
Tip: Reverse your planer board line in the spring before launching by empting the spool (out in the yard), then tie the worn Dacron (which used to be at the board) to the arbor of the planer board spool and wind it in. Reversing mono can be treated this way, only empty a reel to about the depth needed, then just wind the line on the emptied reel, after using a blood knot to joint together.
In every popular American sport a plan is
required. Take football, basketball and baseball for instance: huddles, time outs
and "on the mound" player conferences lead to success or
failure. Fishing the Great Lakes is no different, the plan can be
everything. Fishing hot ports during prime time will enhance your likelihood
of filling your fish box. The more fish you deal with in the
spring, the more insight and confidence leading into the July, August and September
Pride in ownership no matter what size your craft is, shows. A haphazardly rigged boat with lousy wiring and screws instead of thru-bolts are destined cause problems, maybe safety issues too. So, take your time when mounting or rigging your vessel, the dividends in the long run are immense.
Many you think a larger boat will provide
more days fishing when it rough, and safety of the harbor is your only
option, in your 19 footer. I'll let you in on a secret, when
it's too rough for the 19 footer to troll comfortably, it's also too
miserable for my guests aboard my 28 foot Cherokee. Having a trailerable boat
allows for many options a marina moored boat doesn't, not to mention
being able to fill your tank at pump prices instead of paying through
the nose at the marina gas dock.
Cleaning Tip: Use a
toothbrush to reach those cracks and crevices normal wipe downs don't
reach. The corners of electronics are especially hard to reach and
that old, worn out toothbrush works wonders in those tight spots.
A larger hand brush should be kept aboard also, for larger jobs.
Correct winterization or readying your
engine or engines for the winter lay-up goes hand in hand in starting
off the next and upcoming season. When you pull your boat out of
storage or take the winter tarp off it, you want it to be in the same
mechanical sound shape as when you stored it.