March Madness

Bobby Byrd & John Cochrane
March Madness
Boat yards are never as busy in winter and greater attention to detail can be applied.

Don't let the wind drive you crazy!

Well, it's the beginning of spring, hunting season is over and big game fishermen are ready to get offshore. Everyone talks about going fishing and picking a day to get out there. But making plans in advance this time of year is tough. The odds of you picking a future weekend and being able to get offshore are slim. Cold fronts are rolling through and its usually cold and windy. The sea surface temperature is still very cool. It's frustrating - you're ready for winter to be over, ready for warm weather, warm seas and hot fishing. But it's not quite time yet. On our coast the spring winds blow. Yes, you can sneak out here and there, but you really have to watch the weather and be ready to go on a moment's notice, any day, any time.

Did we mention fog? Oh yeah, this is a great time for fog. If you want to practice your captain skills - piloting by radar - you're in luck! You will have plenty of chance to practice. If your boat is not radar equipped, the white stuff can be scary and dangerous. If you can get out, you can catch wahoo on the rocks or tuna at the deep rigs, but most of the time you will be at the dock, watching the wind blow (or feeling it blow the fog.) Last month you flew to Mexico for a week and had a great time, but your vacation funds are low, so you're stuck here and you want to go fishing - NOW! OK settle down don't get mad relax it will be time to go fishing soon! Our suggestion is to take this time to get your boat and tackle ready for the upcoming season.

Now is a great time to make sure your tackle is ready to go. Don't wait until right before summer when tackle repair shops are super busy. Do it now while there is plenty of time. Reels need to be serviced and it's a good idea to dump the old line off of your reels and put on fresh new line. If you are using dacron or superbraid backing with a mono front, you only need to change out the front. It takes time to splice the mono back on to all of your reels, so get it done while the wind is blowing. Check all roller guides by taking them off and cleaning and lubricating each one. A bad guide can cause you to lose a fish that you spent a lot of time and money trying to catch. Lures and leaders need to be checked and re-rigged. Hooks need to be replaced and sharpened. Knots need to be retied and snap swivels checked. Go over your tackle box and make sure you have plenty of everything you need. Check your drags. If you don't have a drag scale, get one. It will help you keep the right amount of pressure on a fish without guessing. It will also help you keep from breaking a fish off. You can take this time to try new knots, crimps or other connections. We usually end up in the parking lot behind the truck, pulling on things until they break. Find out if a new knot or connection you read about in some magazine is going to work right now - not later when you lose a 500 lb. blue marlin.

Outriggers typically need to be checked each year. The sun takes its toll on bungees and nylon, so fix it now, not offshore hanging on to the side of the boat. Don't forget to check all outrigger nuts, bolts and other connections. We know one guy that put out his riggers, started trolling along and one rigger decided to come loose and fall in the water. It's amazing what a little water pressure can do to aluminum! While you're at it, coat you riggers with a metal wax. It will prevent pitting and make them last a lot longer. While you are checking your outriggers, look at your antennas. They take a lot of abuse whipping around all of the time. We have had them whip right off the boat, so look for cracks and bad connections and get them taken care of now.

Your engines need annual servicing, so take this time to get them ready. Changing engine oil and transmission or lower unit gear oil is standard. Whether you are running outboards or gasoline/diesel inboards, fuel filters and impellers need changing, especially if the boat has not moved all winter. It's much easier to change these items at the dock than 100 miles offshore. For inboards you should check all belts, zincs and hoses. Intercoolers should be checked for corrosion and build-up. Check your engine manual or with your local mechanic for any other maintenance items that might need to be done periodically.

As far as your boat is concerned, common yearly maintenance items include compound and waxing, cleaning the hull and running gear, bottom paint, replacing zincs, paint work, prop work, and trailer work, depending on what kind of boat you have. Some work you can do yourself, some is usually done in a boat yard. This is also a good time to add new items like underwater lights, transducers, teak decks, T-tops, leaning posts, rod holders, electronics and anything else that needs to be added, repaired or replaced.

It always amazes us when we see boats in the yard in May and June, working on their boat while the fish are biting. Don't put it off. Get it done now.

The Houston Fishing Show will be going on February 28 through March 4 at the George R. Brown Convention center. It's one of our favorite shows and it's all about fishing and everything associated with fishing. You will see lots of tackle, dealers, trips, guides, seminars, electronics, new products and new boats. This time of year many boat owners decide to sell their boat and move up to a bigger boat while there is still time before the fishing season starts. Come see us at the Tops-N-Towers booth and talk about fishing, rigging your boat or moving up to that next boat. Byrd & Cochrane is the authorized broker for Fox Yacht Sales in the Houston area. Fox is the exclusive Cabo and Riviera Yacht dealer in Texas and we also have an extensive inventory of brokerage boats. For more information call our yacht sales office at 281-291-0656 or check out our website at or