Severe fronts have kept us in port on most days doing maintenance and preparing for the spring fishing season that traditionally starts around St. Patrick's Day (March 17). In a month we'll break out trolling gear that has been idle for two months. Warm-water temperatures through December gave us an extra month to target Spanish mackerel, kingfish, bonita and barracuda. Now's the time to prepare by respooling reels, if necessary, checking drags for smooth operation by tying the line to a fixed object and walking away, checking all guides visually, and running a piece of nylon stocking through each one to ensure no small crack or burr exists that will shave the line with each pass over it and reduce the breaking strength. If drags are performing properly, the only reel maintenance is to properly lubricate with light oil. Baitwell and bilge pumps never stop working at a convenient time. The most common cause is corroded butt connectors on the wiring. All connections should be examined and pulled on to see if corrosion exists. The sure fix is to redo the connections with shrink-fit butt connectors. An assortment of connectors, a heat gun and a crimping tool are all that are required.
Dave Zalewski charters Lucky Too out of Madeira Beach. Call (727) 397-8815.