The worst time of year

Sat, 12/12/2015 - 8:30am

It’s coming. It’s almost here.  

A time that most New England fishermen try to delay as long as possible. The time that inevitably comes at the end of a season, no matter how hard it’s wished away. It’s the time when you have to hang up the rod and reel, stow the lure bag, and settle in for the winter and anxiously await the first sign of spring. These are tough times for the hardcore angler, very tough times... withdrawals are no joke. If you run into a glassy-eyed, grumpy, babbling idiot in the next few months, it’s not a councilman, it’s a fisherman in the throes of fishing withdrawals. Fortunately for the fisherman, its curable when spring arrives. Some avoid withdrawal with other hobbies to occupy the vacant time or work on the ‘honey-do’ lists to get them back in the good graces of their better halves, often referred to as BPA time (brownie point accumulation). Some expertly stockpile their BP’s to be cashed in once the season has started again. These experts in BPA are the ones that fish 100 or more days a year and are still happily married. Others may turn to ice fishing, since Block Island has some good frozen ponds holding nice largemouth, perch, and pickerel… but you need ice, not a guarantee year to year. Whatever you do to get yourself through the winter of no fishing, the first thing you should do when the season is over is put your gear away correctly, so when it’s time to start again the gear works. Let’s go over the winterization of fishing gear.

Fishing rods

After rinsing the rod off with fresh water, check the rod guides for cracks and nicks that can cut line. This is easy to do with a piece of stockings or nylons. Run it through the guides and it will detect any small nicks that can cut your line. Also, check the guide feet for corrosion and clean where appropriate and make sure all guide inserts are secure. If a rod eye needs replacement, this is the time to get it done so it’s ready for spring. Apply light oil to the reel seat and any other metal parts. We prefer a product called Reel X, as it also cleans corrosion and is a great corrosion inhibitor. If you have roller guides on your rods, take them apart, clean them and reassemble. And for the ambitious, apply a light coat of wax to the rod to protect the finish. 

Spinning reels

Make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned with mild, soapy, fresh water. It’s highly recommended to remove old line since it retains salt and will corrode the spool. Monofilament can be discarded as it generally lasts one season. There are recycling centers at most tackle shops, so use them and keep it out of landfills. Braided line lasts longer, so run it onto an empty plastic spool for safe keeping. Take the empty reel spool and wipe it down with light oil. Inspect the spool lip for any rough edges that can fray line. Remove the drag washers and clean and lightly grease them with universal reel grease (most reel manufacturers make it).  Disassembling the reel body isn’t recommended and not necessary if it functions smoothly. Otherwise, send it out to be serviced. When replacing the spool onto the reel, do not tighten the drag down; leave it loose to avoid compressing the washers. Lastly, wipe the reel down with light oil before it’s stored for the winter.


Rinse with fresh water and let air dry. Remove and replace all rusty, corroded or bent hooks and split rings. Most lures come with thin wire hooks, so upgrade to a four times or stronger and heavy duty spilt rings. Coat metal lures and hooks with light oil to prevent corrosion. This is also the time to repaint or touch up plastic and wood lures. Permanent magic markers usually do the trick, but acrylic paint works best. While going through your lures, don’t forget to clean out the sand and dirt from tackle bags and boxes. It’s best to start with clean gear each season.

If you encounter any major issues with your gear, like bad rod guides or sticky reels, give us a call at Block Island Fishworks or email us at and we can either get your gear fixed or recommend someone that can help. Don’t find yourself with faulty gear when the spring run begins!

Catch 'em up!