Just Some Thoughts While the Ramps are Frozen...1/24/2021by Capt Juls on 01/24/21
As I sit here to write this, I can look outside my office window, I see a cold gray January day. It's quiet...so quiet, that even the birds are not stirring out there. It's 32 degrees and there's a light SE wind.
It's January 24th... the ramps froze up yesterday, so we won't be launching any boats until they open up again. I don't see that happening any time this coming week, since the temps will still be in the teens at night and a high in the low 30's each day. The winds will be out of the NNE most of the week, and switching to out of the west on Friday.
Sunday, is forecast to be a high of 43 with 99% chance of rain, so maybe that will help to break up the ice a little. At the time of this blog, the forecast doesn't reach out past Sunday on my DarkSky app, so I can't see into the second week.
Like everyone else this time of year, I'm thinking about getting back on the water. There are things to take care of before the season begins, like re-spooling all the trolling reels, cleaning parts of the boat that typically get ignored throughout a season, and going through bait boxes to inspect, fix, or replace crankbaits.
I had the boat out last Saturday to try out the new Ulterra 31AGM batteries that replaced the 2 year old Interstates that wouldn't last more than 2 1/2 hours in the cold weather. They worked great and still had a full charge after 4 hours. Now I'm able to have more confidence in my equipment, knowing it's not going to crap out on me in the middle of a guide trip. (For those that want to know what I replaced the old batteries with...I went with the Odyssey Extreme 31's.)
The line on the reels gets changed out several times during the season. I use a larger diameter line for the backing, so I'm not spooling on unnecessary amounts of the good line.
Everyone likes the line they use, so find one that works for you. I use the 20# test Sunline Supernatural in green. It has a line diameter of .018, which is only .003 larger than the 10# Trilene line the "Precision Trolling Data" info is tested with. It's worked well for me for the past two seasons, so I'll stick with it again this upcoming season.
The reels then get calibrated, so they are all the same when I start fishing.
The reels have to be done several times a season, because of the number of trips I do. And, by "several", I mean, that it's about every 6 weeks.
Line is stripped off for Knicks in the line, or so that the planer boards are not getting attached in the same place all the time, or the most common...the tangles that happen sometimes, and can't be undone without cutting the line.
It's important to know that the baits are where you want them to be, and if a reel isn't calibrated, the bait not going to be where you think it is.
To calibrate a reel is simple. It's easier and faster with two people, but can very easily be done by yourself too. I'll describe this as a single person doing it.
1. Measure 50 feet and 100 feet on the ground with a measuring tape and mark them with something.
2. Put something at the zero mark to hold your fishing line as you walk it out and measure it.
3. Reel up your line up to the tip and zero out your reel's counter. Then, open the bail...walk it out, and note the number on the counter at both the 50 and 100 marks.
4. At the 100 mark, if the number on the counter is below 100, line needs to be taken off the reel. (It takes removing 30 feet of line to show 1 foot on the reel.)
And, if the number is above 100 on the counter, then line needs to be added. (It's always best to over fill the reel, because it's easier to take some line off than it is to put line on.
5. After line adjustments have been made the counter reads 100 at the 100 mark, it's ready to go. Note: If I'm at 99, 100, or 101...I'm good with that. I don't always get them right on 100. It's close enough.
Once the reels are done, it's time to pull boxes out of the storage compartments and look at the baits. It's something that can be done while watching tv, or sitting in my boat over in the storage building. All the hooks get checked to make sure they're not bent or missing. The split rings also get a once over to make sure they are all in good shape too.
I'm often asked in private messages, emails, and texts what some of the equipment I use is, so I'll post it here for anyone else that wants that information.
I prefer a nicer reel than the rod. I have been using Shakespeare Ugly Stik's for 20 years now, and still have no complaints about them....other than, the fact that they stopped making the CAL1100 model and replaced it with the GX2 1 piece 7' med.
Don't get me wrong...the new one is a nice rod, but the CAL1100 was a workhorse that never went lame. I only have one season on the new model, so I can't really speak of its longevity, but so far so good. I like it. And, they were affordable, like the old CAL100's.
I like to use all the same trolling rods when I'm running Off Shore boards too, because when the rod tips are all the same, I can read the tips better. Most customers don't notice the rod tips and just watch the boards. But, sometimes that can mislead. A walleye has been known to have been hanging on to a bait that it ate, but no one notices, because the board is still somewhat in line, and it's not bouncing like there's a thrashing fish trying to get away. Then, there are the thoughts of, "Are we turning?" Or, "Did we just hit a current?" run through one's mind first, and thinking of an immediate correction if needed.
But, with one look to the rod tip, and you notice that it just looks a little different than it had the past few minutes, you would be correct to pull it in and check it. Usually, you'll find you had a fish hanging on it. I've even seen that happen with Tattle Flags on the boards too. Some fish are just funny that way. Sneaky devils.
I see this is getting long, so I'll write some more tomorrow. I don't want to bore you guys for too long, or you won't come back! Ha!