By John Kruse
One of the best-known episodes from the classic television series, “The Twilight Zone”, was about a bespectacled bookworm named Henry Bemis. All he wanted to do was read books undisturbed but life for this bank teller just got in the way. That was, until he emerged from a lunch break in a bank vault to find the world had come to an end thanks to a nuclear war and he was the sole survivor. This gave him the opportunity to finally read all the books he wanted. The episode “Time Enough at Last” ended with fate playing a cruel trick on Henry Bemis just as he was about to enjoy life in this post-apocalyptic world.
The story seems apt for anglers, hunters and outdoors enthusiasts in Washington who find they can’t currently enjoy their passions of hunting and fishing or even getting outside to most of our public lands during this coronavirus induced lockdown. So, what’s a hunter and angler to do? We’ve got a few suggestions for you focusing on routine maintenance tasks you have likely put off because of past time constraints!
FIREARMS MAINTENANCE: Hopefully you clean your firearm after each outing to the range or into the field but let’s face it, many shooters don’t clean that firearm until the end of the season and in some cases, still haven’t. There’s no excuse to put that task off any more and your firearms will function far better and last longer for the effort.
ROD, REEL AND LINE: Most folks don’t think of maintaining their reel or changing out their fishing line until they either lose a fish when the line snaps or your fishing reel seizes up in the middle of a retrieve.
You can prevent both scenarios with a few easy steps that you really should do once a year. First off, take the spool off your reel (if it’s a spinning reel) and then clean and lube the reel well, getting out the grime that has likely accumulated there. They actually make reel lube for fishing reels but if you can’t find that a synthetic oil lubricant will also help prevent rust and keep those gears and bearings working.
As for the line, change that out once a year. Many spools come with a small piece of tape on the line. If you have ever forgotten what pound test you have on that reel, you can remember by writing down the test on that tape along with the date it was installed and tape that on the inside of the spool (i.e. 10lb 2020).
OTHER GEAR MAINTENANCE: If you are a hunter you may use decoys and this is the time to clean them and touch them up with paint. If you are a duck hunter you can also check the cords and weights on each decoy and replace the ones that have been lost.
Duck hunters and anglers use waders and now is the time to patch those leaks so you can actually stay dry the next time you wade into a lake or stream.
THE BOAT: With the vast majority of boat ramps closed this is the ideal time to make some improvements to your boat. Consider installing new rod holders or upgraded marine electronics. You could also set up some downriggers to use for salmon or lake trout. If you are not well versed in the use of downriggers check out the basics courtesy of Cannon Downriggers at www.cannondownriggers.com/learn/downrigger-basics.
ONLINE LEARNING: Downriggers are not the only thing you can learn about online. If you have been putting off taking that Washington State Boater’s Education Course now is the time to take it www.boat-ed.com/washington/.
On the firearms side of the house the sporting goods industry reports a lot of people have become first time pistol owners during this pandemic for home security purposes. Owning a firearm is one thing. Knowing how to use it in a safe and proficient manner is another. That’s why a $60 investment into the Basic Pistol Course being offered online by the National Rifle Association could be a very good bet. https://basicpistol.nra.org/
SORTING AND ORGANIZING: Last but not least, head out to the shop or the garage and do some serious spring cleaning and organizing when it comes to your fishing tackle and hunting gear. Think about it, you’ll finally able to find that perfect lure, those shooting glasses or that missing pair of pliers when you need them if you take the time to do this now.
Put it all together, and there is plenty to keep you busy during the next few weeks while we suffer together through our state closure of fishing and hunting. When things open again though, we’ll be ready!
John Kruse – www.northwesternoutdoors.com and www.americaoutdoorsradio.com