Winterizing Your Fishing Gear

A Part of the What's Biting Series

For most of us, it's over. The 2016 fishing season has come to a close. Maybe we'll try to sneak out one last time around Thanksgiving or a sunny December day, but I think most of us know deep down that we've cleared the pass for the last time in 2016.

That means we won't be using our offshore tackle for several months. Nothing about the sport of offshore fishing is inexpensive, especially our rods and reels. Spending a little time right now on your fishing gear will help ensure it's ready to go next season.

I have written in the past about the advantages to getting your reels serviced early in the off-season. If your reels are due for servicing, take them in now. The turnaround time will be very fast; your favorite local tackle shop will be most appreciative that you haven't procrastinated until the last minute. You'll have the peace of mind knowing that your reels are cleaned, lubed and ready to go offshore in 2017.

Once it's time to put my tackle away for the winter I have a little routine I like to go through. First I cut off all of my hooks, terminal tackle leaders and double line. It's an easy time to discard any tackle that needs replacing. ‘De-rigging' all of my rods and reels also creates the need for me to spend a day or weekend getting set up for the fishing season once late winter arrives. Getting ready to go fishing is almost as fun for me as going fishing!

I like to remove my reels from the rods and give them a good wipe down with an anti-corrosion oil. I also check the grease on the reel seat (you know the blue stuff that always seems to get on your shirt) and reapply if needed. Then I put the reel back on the rod and do what I feel is an important but often overlooked final step.

With all of my reels, I completely back off the drag for the winter. We've all had reels that the drag became 'locked-up' and it most likely occurred after an extended period of inactivity. Drags work on compression with discs and gears.

By loosening the drag, that compression is eliminated. There is no reason to have your drag engaged while your reel sits in storage.

Before storing my rods for the winter, I do a couple of simple maintenance tasks on each of them. For rods with roller guides, I apply a little ‘3 in one' oil to ensure the rollers operate smoothly. I also take a cotton swab and move it around the inside of every guide on every rod. If there is a nick or burr on the guide, you will feel it on the swab as it hangs up. Any imperfection could result in breaking the line while fighting a fish. Inspect each guide carefully and if needed either repair them yourself or take them to a professional.

Spending an afternoon putting away my rods and reels is a day I enjoy even though it marks the end of the season. I always find myself reflecting on the memories of another year of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. My thoughts never drift to the trips of rough seas and the days of struggling to find fish. Instead, I warmly think about friends and family and those precious moments we spent on the water together and will hopefully do again soon.

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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1324 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…