When a reel comes in for repair at Mastry's Bait and Tackle in St. Petersburg, owner Larry Mastry can usually tell what the problem is just from hearing it wind. And it's usually one or both of these culprits: saltwater and sand. "We're dealing with saltwater around here, and it's very corrosive," Mastry says. "As soon as water hits the bearings and sits, it corrodes and becomes hard to wind or freezes the reel altogether. And once you get sand in there, it's nearly impossible to remove. It's a very labor-intensive job, and we don't attempt that kind of job anymore." Mastry offered these tips for reel care and maintenance:
• Avoid placing reels in any place where salt spray can blast on them, especially while underway on a boat. With enough pressure and exposure, saltwater can penetrate the reel and corrode the gears and bearings.
• Always keep reels out of the sand. Mastry also cautions anglers to avoid storing or transporting reels exposed in the back of a pickup truck where sand is being blown around.
• Avoid storing your fishing equipment in an enclosed area with pool chemicals. "Those fumes will eat up the metal in the guides, it will corrode the reel and take the chrome off. It destroys outfits, and cast nets, too."
Okay, so even with all the care in the world, you're still going to get some saltwater on your reels over time. Here are some steps that can add to the life of your reels:
• Once you get home from a trip, lightly mist each outfit one by one with fresh water. Do not blast the reels or you will force more water inside.
• Spray the key joints and moving parts with a lubricant: all the cracks and crevices, the bail arm, the handle, shaft and line roller. Take off the spool, lubricate the shaft and turn it a few times to work it in. Some reels have little plugs or ports that can be removed so you can lubricate the bearings without taking the reel apart.
• Now wipe down the entire reel with a cloth sprayed with lubricant. Mastry says Reel Magic, CorrosionX and Penn Rod and Reel Cleaner sell for between $7 and $10, and they don't leave a sticky film.
All right, the worst has happened. The reel has been dunked completely in saltwater. All is not lost if you perform these steps as quickly as possible:
• Do the previous steps, then loosen a few of the screws to crack open the casing wide enough to get the lubricant spray tube in there. "Give it a good blast to flush out the salt; we're trying to protect those bearings in there," Mastry says. He also added that a severe dunking may require the reel to be taken apart and regreased, but each person must know their own abilities in that regard.
• Whatever you do, don't dunk the reel in a bucket of freshwater or in a swimming pool.
WEB SITE OF THE MONTH
Serious anglers keep a logbook of each fish caught. When guide Logan Beal of Bradenton got tired of flipping through his hundreds of pages, he went to computer programmer and friend Nicholas Barger. They developed a computerized version of Beal's book. Mycatchlog.com allows anglers to log in a day's fishing in "one to two minutes," Beal says. The site boasts satellite mapping and has a multitude of sorting features.
People | Pete Krulder
What I do: Park manager for Honeymoon Island, Caladesi Island, Anclote Key, Egmont Key and the Skyway Fishing Piers of the Florida State Park system.
Age: 51. Resides: House near the front gate of Honeymoon Island State Park, located at the west end of State Road 586 in Dunedin.
Years on this job: 3½ years. Started in park service in 1999.
Proud of: "We have the No. 1 beach (Caladesi), and Honeymoon Island in the last fiscal year was the most visited Florida State Park in the system with more than 1 million visitors. And we're heading for that number again this year."
Best part of the job: "Seeing people really enjoying the resources that we have here — a great day at the beach or hiking a trail. I especially like seeing kids outside."
Thing that would surprise people about your job: "I would say that three-quarters of my time on the job is actually spent in the office doing all the administrative duties."
No. 1 issue facing Honeymoon Island: Budgetary constraints. "How do we keep up the level of quality service on less money? We need to be more innovative and smart. We're trying to stretch the dollar." The park bought bikes for the rangers to use on patrol instead of using the truck and burning fuel.
Favorite outdoor activity: Inshore fishing for snook.
Recent vacation: Two years ago, camped and hiked in Georgia mountains throughout its state park system, visiting Tallulah Gorge and Black Rock Mountain.
Interesting sights: Seen a dolphin grab a snook by the tail, flip it into the air, then catch it and eat it. Also, came across a great egret and snake locked in combat.
Last month: Which of these local treasures should top a Wonders of Tampa Bay list?
• Fort De Soto 40 percent
• Egmont Key 16 percent
• Caladesi Island 15 percent
• Honeymoon Island 11 percent
• Anclote Key 7 percent
• Weedon Island 5 percent
• Hillsborough River State Park 3 percent
• Other 3 percent
New Question: During spring break you decide to take the family camping. Do you take a TV and/or handheld video games?
Vote at outdoors.tampabay.com