This week I began the fall/winter clean-up of my tackle boxes, rods, and reels. The clean-up will take several weeks to complete, as I decide which of my tackle/baits will be going back into the boxes and which will be going into my back-up storage boxes for another season.

The rods and reels are projects unto themselves: I strip the reels of approximately 70% of the line; then I back off the drag to take pressure off the pads; and, finally, I oil and grease them before storage. I inspect the rods for any damage I ignored during the season – nicks in the guides, frayed wraps, damaged handles – and repair them as needed before storing them for the winter.

Finally, I will take inventory of the “tools” on the boat that I use all year and see which ones need to be replaced. These will go on my Christmas wish list for my family, things like needle nose pliers for hook removal or a small 5-inch flat file to sharpen hooks.

Now is also a great time to check my raingear for damage and possible replacement during some of the upcoming winter sales at the sport shows.

As I am going through my tackle, I will be taking inventory of my various jigs so I will know what I have to make over the winter in my workshop. I already know that I am short on live bait jigs for walleyes. I used the last ones this summer in Minnesota, so I am fairly certain I will need 1/8-ounce ball jigs. These are my “go to” jigs for everything from live bait to plastic and combinations of both, because they get lost in the rocks along the bottom searching for walleyes and smallmouth bass. I will probably need some small jigs in 1/32-ounce to 1/16-ounce sizes for my panfishing; I usually need them each year.

As the days get shorter, I have my work cut out for me. I hope to make at least one more fishing trip with my family down to Starved Rock and the Illinois River. Until next time…keep a tight line.

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