The leaves are beginning to turn color, another Golden North Salmon Derby has come and gone and the rainy season has begun. For fishermen, these signs mean one thing - the fishing season is almost over.
With the exception of the hearty winter fishermen, it's time to put away that gear, cover up the boat and wait out another long, dark off-season.
Instead of storing your rods and reels in a closet or corner of the garage and forgetting about them until spring, try a little bit of maintenance now to get ready for next season.
The first thing you should do is get rid of the old line on your reel. This leaves you no choice but to spool up some brand new line to wet for next year. Every fish reeled in stretches your line, weakening it slowly over time. Nothing could be more disappointing than to hook into the winner of the Spring King Salmon Derby and have your line break because it was the same monofilament you used last year.
Next, the reel needs some relief from all that work in salt water. Corrosion is your reel's biggest enemy and according to Bill Brown, owner and operator of Taku Reel Repair, every reel should be cleaned at least once a year.
"By far the most common problem with reels is corrosion," Brown said. "Rinse your reel out in fresh water and try to get rid of the corrosion."
Brown also suggests taking your reel apart and to further clean off rust, as well as oil the level lines.
"Certainly the end of the season is a good time to do this," Brown said. "You'll be miles ahead if this is done."
The boat and motor most likely will need some work too.
There are several outboard repair shops in town that can take care of your winterizing. But if you are the do-it-yourself type, Clark Damon, owner of Bear Creek Company in Douglas, has some suggestions to keep your outboard in shape.
"Run fresh water through the engine and change the oil on the lower unit," Damon said.
This can be done by hooking up the water intake to a garden hose or submerging it in a tank of water. Much like a reel, it will prevent corrosion during the off-season and extend the life of your motor.
For your boat, do your spring cleaning now. Scrub it down and get rid of all the leftovers, then get as much water as possible out of the boat. This would also be a good time to repair anything you broke and never got around to fixing.
Finally, cover your boat the best you can to keep it dry over winter. Remember water expands when it freezes and any left in a boat could possibly lead to problems if it ices up in the wrong place.
These are just a few simple, common-sense suggestions to make next year's fishing season start off on the right fin. Ignore them and you could pay much higher price to get your gear fixed.
Jeff Kasper is a free-lance writer and former Empire sports writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.