Cabin Fever Cure

Cabin Fever Cure
Best spring fever cure known to man!

It's 2:00 a.m. and you're wide awake scrolling hopelessly through hundreds of TV channels, listening to anyone and everyone with a pulse making sales pitches for products that are certain to, "transform your life." Everybody is searching for the next big thing, fishermen included. April fits the scene perfectly and salesmen are aware, hawking tackle wares to anglers who have been suffering cabin fever since hunting seasons closed and winter's grip kept many off the water.

The promise of April's longer days, warmer weather and water temperatures are impossible to ignore. If you want to get a feel for how spring jump starts angler participation, just go sit on your tailgate along any of the major routes to the coast or big fresh water lakes and watch the parade of fiberglass. It's mind-boggling to say the least.

Okay, with all the extra fishermen coming out of hibernation this month there are a few keys to navigating the traffic and finding fish that will be helpful. Without a doubt the most important part of a day on the water is making sure your equipment is in good shape. Nothing ruins a day on the water like not being able to actually get on the water. If you store your boat for prolonged periods during the winter months you owe it to yourself to take an afternoon and go through a list of things that can cause big problems, before you head to the launch.

Initial inspections will often reveal problems like leaks, low fluid levels, or other maintenance issues. If you don't have anything leaking, start working your way to the control area of your boat and check your batteries, this is without a doubt the most common problem boaters have after not running their boats over the winter. Nothing says "punch in the gut" like having your family standing on the dock staring at you while your motor won't crank. And let's also not forget about the rest of the world lined up ready to launch while you struggle with your problems, creating a traffic jam at the launch. A bit of preventative maintenance always goes a long way in this type of situation. Running your motor at home on the water hose can provide valuable clues as to the health and readiness of your rig.

Speaking of getting ready and problems at the launch, it's also a great idea to check your fuel system. Hopefully you either emptied your tank or mixed some sort of additive in your fuel to stabilize it for the time period you didn't run your boat. Checking in-line filters for trash or water as well as adding fresh gas and fuel treatment are a must. In the long run, the life and performance of your motor will be greatly improved with just a few simple steps. Water in the fuel system and ethanol are big problems today, couple that with a motor sitting up for long periods means you have a recipe for trouble. In older 2-stroke motors, fixing that problem is a little easier. It is imperative for those folks running newer motors with higher technology such as injection to be vigilant about taking care of the fuel systems.

Now, with the two major issues of batteries and fuel out of the way, the trip to the water should run much smoother. But an inspection of your trailer is also a must. It's not an official outing for most folks, me included, unless you have to deal with trailer lights. Besides the lights you really should take a few minutes and give the tires a thorough inspection. Jack the wheels off the ground and spin the wheels watching for any tire abnormalities such as dry rot and bulges. Listen carefully for any bearing squeaking and with a pry bar, wiggle the tire vigorously up and down to detect any excessive bearing end-play. It is always a good idea to add some grease to your bearings. If you haven't already added a true safety chain to your trailer, along with your winch strap, now is the time to do so.

Securing your boat investment to the trailer with only a winch strap doesn't make a whole bunch of sense when you really think about it, now does it? A good chain and shackle through the bow eye is a great insurance policy against rough roads and the potential for your boat to shift or even bounce off the trailer. I cringe when I see the way some folks just nonchalantly hook up the winch and nothing else, and head off down the highway. If you've ever seen a boat leave the trailer and skid along an asphalt roadway you will become a firm believer in safety chains and transom straps–trust me.

Now with the boat maintenance issues hopefully under control you may want to take a look at some of your other equipment as well. Trolling motors are notorious for developing issues that can severely hinder your day on the water. Batteries again are some of usual the culprits and should always be your first inspection point. Low voltage to the unit is another common issue and often arises from corroded terminals and wiring connections, faulty circuit breaker and fuses. A voltage meter is a must for any boat owner and it will help you pinpoint electrical problems, saving you time, frustration, and money.

Last but certainly not least on the pre-trip checklist is of course your fishing gear. Perhaps the one piece of equipment that needs to be looked at the hardest is your fishing line, especially if it's been stored for weeks or months. Monofilament users especially should take extra care inspecting their line as it often takes a "set" during storage and is much more susceptible to deterioration than braid. Memory, or "set" in monofilament line is the primary source of reduced casting distance and dreaded backlashes. It's always a good idea if you are in any doubt about the integrity of your line to go ahead and change it out. I always ask folks who try to skimp by "is losing the biggest fish of your life worth the couple of dollars you saved by not re-spooling?" If you've ever lost a good fish to inferior or old line then you know what the answer is. Spool them up fresh, you'll be glad you did.

Just a few more words about getting out and enjoying springtime on the water–be patient and be safe. Everyone has the same idea as you and that's getting out on the water and enjoying it. The crowds will be out in full force so pay attention and be courteous. Nobody wants their day ruined with some sort of foolish confrontation. Also be sure you operate your boat safely and wear a personal flotation device; that water is still cold and accidents can happen. The inflatable styles are comfortable enough to wear all day!