It’s time to clean your fishing gear, trout season opens Saturday, April 29. It will be a muddy affair depending on where you go. Check your rods, wash them with warm soap and water, rinse with warm water and check for cracks, broken guides, and the important tip guide. Your reels should also get a tune up, there are dozens of repair shops for your reel tune-up. Check your line, after a few years wound tightly around the spool, the line becomes kinked, when cast you get a mass of ringlets. They get between you and a tight line; sensitivity is impaired when that big trout sniffs and nibbles your bait. Most good tackle shops will remove your old line and replace it with the new for a small fee. After investing in a trout fishing trip, or any fishing trip for that matter, don’t let poorly maintained gear get in your way.

Spring cleaning your gear includes your tackle box(s) keeping tackle in specific fishing-mode boxes. A saltwater box for offshore or nearshore and possibly a box for fishing the bays, rivers, and delta where brackish water, a blend of salt and freshwater, usually subject to tides. Keeping those tackle groups salt and brackish separate from freshwater tackle means no degradation from corrosive salts. Keeping fly fishing gear in its own box is a good policy in any case. Clean off your garage bench, cover it in paper and dump the tackle box on the paper. Wash the box in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Go through the lures, hooks, and other goodies, clean the good stuff, and throw away the damaged and broken equipment. Most jars of fish eggs are rotten and maybe fossilized. Make a list of what is needed to refresh your tackle box and use that to shop. Replace leaders every year or two, see curls above, the materials used to make modern lines break down over time, so your close attention is needed.

Your personal fishing gear includes a clean vest, a good quality sun hat, fresh sunscreen, typically sunscreen expires in one year. A good pair of sunglasses polarized is important. Packing a pair of binoculars in your fishing gear is a handy tool. Chances are the jerky in your fishing vest from last year has gone over, ugh! Waders should be cleaned and hung by the heels to prevent wrinkles that will eventually leak. Same goes for your nets, trout to salmon size, should be washed and hung to dry for storage. Repair any holes in your nets, don’t lose that big striped bass through a rip in your landing net. When that fishing trip nears you can feel ready to roll, fresh bait, new lures and tight lines will increase you chance of success. 

Some excellent resources for the fisher are The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), their web site has a vast amount of information for the angler. They also have a link to the planned fish planting schedules, site specific. Videos on fishing technique and advice on where to fish are also on the CDFW site. Beyond the government resources the private side is awash in the where, how, and when of fishing for the lunker of your dreams. One good site is lots of information. Take a hard look at charters, they all brag about their recent success, but take a sober look at things on your own. Have conditions been favorable or have late spring rains washed debris into your favorite spot? It takes a couple of weeks for water to fall clear after a rainstorm. Ocean fishing can be very hard on you if the sea is pounding the boat, sometimes it’s all you can do just to hang on. Big waves cause your ride to go up and down twenty feet in a ten-foot swell. Fishers heaving over the deck can spoil an expensive fishing trip. Reach beyond your experience and try a new place, underused waters near here are San Pablo Bay, the Petaluma and Napa Rivers, they are brackish water influenced by tides. Tomales Bay has some excellent fishing waiting for your bait. A word of caution, Tomales can be treacherous, winds can jump up quickly and catch the inexperienced boaters by surprise. Do not attempt to go in or out of the mouth of Tomales bay without getting good advice from experienced boaters. 

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week

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