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The List

Getting equipped to clean your tackle will postpone that day of reckoning
     First it was wind and plenty of it. Then rain. Gazing at the dreary, sodden, gale-racked scene from my writing chair, I admitted that foul weather is finally descending on us. We will get days on the water, but more often than not, we won’t.
     Behind me was the tangle of gear I had ignored for some time. Two rod racks hold more than 20 outfits, sufficient for most of the rigs I commonly use. When I’m in a sweet run — weather, tides and fish all cooperating — I don’t put the rods where they belong. I lean them somewhere convenient. My room looks like a forest of falling timber. 
     With fishing in the near future doubtful, I considered cleaning my gear in preparation for wintertime storage. Taking stock, I saw missing maintenance items, mostly products that had been hijacked for household use.
     A list was what I needed. I liked the idea. A list would take me a while. Then I would have to make a trip to buy what was missing, thus putting off cleaning anything. Perfect. 
     The first item on my list is Soft Scrub. A wonderful cleaning product containing a mild abrasive, Soft Scrub is perfect for resurrecting a fresh gleam from a fish slime-encrusted rod. I made a note to get the kind without bleach, as I always get some on my clothing and it leaves its mark.
      The Soft Scrub is used on a sponge so I’ll need a few of those. There are at least one or two in the kitchen, but my wife would not like me using them on tackle contaminated with menhaden residue or worm goo. She might think I would return them for further use on pots or pans, though I assure you I would not.
     A toothbrush is also handy for cleaning the guides on a rod or the crevices of a reel. They are useful for many applications and, with a good dollop of Soft Scrub, can make a tedious job much easier. I added a couple of inexpensive brushes to my list. I offer a word of caution: To avoid embarrassing confrontations, an angler should not purchase any toothbrush in the same color that anyone else in the household is using.
     Regular powdered sink cleanser is also a necessity for a thorough cleaning job. I don’t recommend it for rods or reels as it is too abrasive, but it can bring a dirt-encrusted cork or foam rod handle back to great condition. It should be applied with a sponge. Never use a brush to clean cork as it can easily erode the softer parts of the surface.
     A can of WD-40 is also on the list. Both a cleaner and a preservative, it is wonderful for a quick cleaning of the surfaces of any tackle; a light covering will protect most metals during winter storage. Do not spray it directly onto reels; it is not a lubricant. As it contains a potent solvent, it can dilute or displace heavy grease or other interior petroleum lubricants. 
     As a final item, I include line conditioner. Monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines can dry out in storage, becoming stiff and brittle and retaining spool memory. As a last step, a thorough and generous application of a good-quality line conditioner on your spooled reels will minimize these effects and keep all types of fishing lines soft, fresh and ready to use come spring.  
     Now I’m ready to go shopping. When I get back with my replenished supplies, it will be too late to start cleaning.

Fish Finder
     On the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, another nor’easter descended on us. Expect the gale to break up and relocate the large migrating schools of baitfish as well as the rockfish that have been following them. All bets are off on how or where the bite will resume. The storm will also close down crabbing, and any spot, croaker or Spanish mackerel action. 
 
Hunting Seasons
Wild Turkey: thru Nov. 4
Sea Duck: Nov. 4-12
Duck: Nov. 11-24
Snow goose: thru Nov. 24
Whitetail deer, antlered and antlerless, and Sika deer: Muzzleloader season thru Nov. 21; Bow season thru Nov. 24
Woodcock: thru Nov. 24
Ruffed grouse: thru Jan. 31
Squirrel: thru Feb. 28