The recent warm snap may be tempting some anglers in the Miami Valley of Ohio to head for the lakes and rivers. There are two things wrong with this temptation. For one thing, the lakes are frozen and the rivers are full of snow melt. Please do not venture out onto the ice right now! It was not that thick to start with and temperatures above freezing for the past several days and in the 50's today have probably made what little ice there was unsafe to walk on. For another thing, unless you have very little tackle or very small ambitions for the 2010 season, you are probably nowhere near ready to cease preparing and start fishing,
It may be that the best thing an angler can do to be productive and quell some mid-Winter fishing fever would be to clean and organize some tackle boxes. If your tackle boxes saw much use last year, they are probably pretty much of a jumbled wreck at this time of year. The boxes that will be used for this demonstration are pocket boxes from a fishing vest, but the same procedures and practices will hold true for larger tackle and containers. Your boxes probably look something like the ones in Photo 1 of the slideshow below.
You will notice that there are mixed types of lures in each compartment and the general feeling is one of a disorganized mess. The first thing to do is to get all those lures out of there and clean the box itself. Use a light soap, something like highly diluted dish detergent.
The next step is to tend to the lures themselves. Discard torn plastics. Replace stretched split rings and bent hooks. The two things you will need to do with every lure without fail is to sharpen the hooks and check the line tie to trim off any bits of line left over from last year.
Sharpening all those hooks may take a bit of time but it will pay dividends during the season when nice fish stay hooked. One thing that can help a lot with sharpening is your fly vise. Put the hook in the vise in a way that lets you get at the point(s). Then, using a small sharpening stone or file, take a few licks along the back of the point, which is the side facing away from the barb. After you have done that, use that side as the base of an equilateral triangle and sharpen up the sides of the barb so you end up with the point of an angle on the top edge of the barb and two other cutting edges meeting that flat side you filed on the back of the point. It should only take about four or five licks for each side of the triangle. Now check those line ties for leftover knots! They can interfere with the lure's action by preventing your line from riding where it was designed to ride. Clip them off and get ready for the big event!
Once you have gone over all the lures in your box in this manner, it will be time to reload the box in an organized manner. You can organize by color, lure type or even manufacturer. Just don't get too bent out of shape if your scheme gets derailed by that odd lure that just doesn't seem to fit in, whether by type, shape or size. Every angler has that weirdo lure hanging out in their box to remind them of that one time their sales resistance must have been running on empty. Just do the best you can to get almost all your lures into the box according to some pattern, smile and shake your head at the weirdos and then sit back and realize that now your box looks more like this.
Voila! Now you are ready to take inventory according to your goals for the season so you will know exactly what lures you need to buy when you head to the tackle store! All you need to to do now is clean and lube your reels and figure out what line you will need, but that's a topic for another day!