(Editor’s note: Starting immediately, FLW Tour pro Todd Hollowell has agreed to make regular blog contributions approximately once a month on FLWOutdoors.com. Going forward, bass-fishing fans will be treated to a wide array of blogs from a host of different FLW Tour pros on FLWOutdoors.com leading up to the 2014 season and beyond.)
The months surrounding the holidays are some of the most enjoyable months of the year for me. It’s a time when the competitive fishing season has drawn to a close and the new tournament schedules are finally unveiled. It’s a time to reflect and a time to hope for better things to come in the following year – all while enjoying time at home with the family. Life just seems to slow down for a few months. However, during this time of year, it’s usually so cold where I live that nobody wants to be outside. It’s definitely not the greatest fishing weather either. And this year, the cold has set in a bit earlier than in years past and our lakes are already frozen over. But as we all know, this is just the calm before the storm.
In only a few short weeks, I’ll be packing the Red Gold Tomatoes truck and boat and heading to Clewiston, Fla., to prepare for our first FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee. With five events scheduled in a 60-day period to kick off the season, life on the road will get hectic for me very quickly. And because the fishing season right around the corner, now is the time to start getting ready for the upcoming year. As such, I wanted to take some time to discuss two things that anglers sometimes overlook when preparing for the next season – treble hooks and rain gear.
One thing I always do in the “offseason” is to go through each one of my tackle boxes that contain treble-hook baits. This includes my jerkbait and crankbait tackle boxes. I’ve seen anglers actually throw away perfectly good hard baits because of old, bent or rusty treble hooks - or because the paint job on the bait has become rusty. My advice: Save yourself some money and take the time to replace troubled hooks with new ones. Go through each treble hook and sharpen up any dull hooks. If the paint job has dulled or become rusty, sometimes a simple toothbrush and toothpaste can work wonders to restore the original paint and shine on a plug. Lastly, make sure you address why the rust has occurred in the first place. Rust usually occurs from water getting into a tackle box or wet hooks being placed in a storage box. If you have holes in your boxes, fix them or replace them. I’ve also learned over the years that the silica gel packets that come with new pairs of shoes actually absorb water and fit easily into my tackle boxes. You can buy these at Walmart or collect these from new shoe boxes at Christmas time. My family always thinks I’m crazy for asking for all of these when the wrapping paper goes flying, but they don’t know what a chore it is to replace a tackle box full of rusty hooks!
Next, if you’ve had any compromises in your rain gear the previous year, it’s time to address those issues as well. Being cold and wet is perhaps the most miserable way to spend a day in the boat – it can even affect and impact your decision making on the water. The way to combat this is to make sure you have warm and dry rain gear. First, if your rain gear is relatively new and functional, take time to do some simple maintenance to keep it dry for another year. There are several products on the market that act as repellants that you can spray on or wash-in. However, I’ve found that most rain gear will only hold up for a few years before the elements take their toll and they start to lose their effectiveness. That was my predicament this off-season. But thanks to a tip from fellow FLW Tour Pro Barry Wilson, I’ve found the warmest and driest foul-weather gear I’ve ever owned made by a company called STORMR. They use a new technology that combines a windproof neoprene core for warmth with a fabric that actually beads water on impact to keep you dry. Did I also mention that their gear is flexible, allowing you to fish naturally and that it has inherent flotation capabilities which help you to float safely should you go overboard?
If you haven’t seen these new suits, you’re missing out. You can see them online at www.stormrusa.com. If you want to defy the elements, this stuff will help you do just that – there’s nothing else out there like it.
My next blog will be from sunny, south Florida. Hopefully that new rain gear won’t be needed and I’ll be employing a steady dose of flip flops and sunscreen instead. But no matter what the weather brings, I’m really looking forward to 2014 and traveling with my brother on the FLW Tour. It should make for a great start to the season and hopefully the start of many good memories to come, God willing of course.
Hopefully Santa will bring each of you the biggest bass you’ve ever seen!
From my family to yours, happy holidays!
Todd Hollowell has fished as a pro on the FLW Tour since the 2012 season and is currently the host of the Bass Dr. television show on the World Fishing Network (WFN). To read more about Todd Hollowell and his latest exploits, check out his website toddhollowell.com.