It happens every spring. On the first few fishing trips of the year, I’ll start looking for the bait that I invariably left at home. “I know I bought some peanut butter and jelly-colored jigs last fall,” I’ll think to myself, “but they aren’t in my jig box. I would love to throw one right now, but I can’t find them.”
While I’m out fishing, I tend to scatter my jigs, soft plastics and other fishing lures in shirt pockets, any open pouch on my soft-sided tacklebox, my lunch cooler or just about anywhere other than where they belong. I get too excited to take the time to put lures back in their rightful spot in my tackle bag. I may not find that certain jig until I stick my hand in the pocket of my jacket in June.
This stretch of bleak, dreary winter weather is a good time to make sure the peanut butter and jelly jigs are in your fishing box instead of your jacket pocket. A little organizing now will make for better fishing later.
I love to float streams for trout and smallmouth bass. I enjoy wading for them as well, and I enjoy fishing from a boat. After a year of doing all three, my lures for wading and floating for smallmouth bass get mixed up with my trout lures and my boat fishing lures. So, when I am enjoying a summer Sunday afternoon floating for smallmouth bass, I often pine for lures that I left in my boat fishing tackle box, fishing vest or stored with my trout lures.
The best way to avoid this situation is to organize your lures by the species of fish that you’re after. Try using a small chest equipped with plastic drawers to separate your crappie, trout and smallmouth bass lures. Grab a marker and some masking tape and label each drawer. You’ll thank yourself later.
Now is a good time to buy a new tackle bag. The tackle bags with several utility boxes inside them are the best organizing system for your lures. The big bulky tackle boxes from the 1970s and 1980s with extending trays for lures and tackle are on their way to extinction. Every time you knock one of those over or it is thrown in the back of a truck, all of the lures in the trays become mixed together. You often don’t realize it happened until the next time you open the box and find your lures in a tangled mess.
Tackle bags with utility boxes keep different style of lures separate from one another. You can take the same masking tape and marker and label each box with the type of lures in it. A couple of my friends label each box for the species of fish the lures in the box would entice.
This system also allows me to travel light if needed. If I know I am going to share a boat with a couple more anglers, bringing just a couple of boxes and two rods saves valuable storage and floor space. I know I’ve often stumbled, kicked and stepped on many tackle bags and boxes when I am fishing three in a boat. Plus, if I know I am going to fish jigs that day for largemouth bass, I just need to grab my jig box and stick a couple of bags of soft plastic trailers in my pocket and I am ready to go. Or, if I am fishing for stripers, I can just grab my box for striped bass and leave the other stuff at home.
I know some anglers who think that it’s fine to fish with the same spool of sixpound line for the entire year. However, old line is a major source of tangles, fish breaking off and frustration. Take the time this winter to replace the line on all your reels with fresh monofilament or fluorocarbon. Your line is the only connection that you have with a fish. Why would you want to shortchange that connection and risk breaking off a trophy fish?
You can put fresh monofilament line on two reels for roughly the cost of one crankbait. If you buy bulk spools of monofilament, you can replace the line on the reel for about the cost of a soft drink. Fluorocarbon is more expensive, but refilling the spool on a reel with it is still one of the cheapest outlays for fishing.
Take the time now while the weather outside is frightful to organize your lures and put new line on your fishing reels. That way, you’ll have your peanut butter and jelly colored jigs in your box, not in the closet.