Winter is a good time to clean up the gear, grease the reels

Eagle on the hunt above Indian River looking between the ice flows. Submitted photos

The hardest part about writing an outdoors column in the winter is doing stuff in the actual outdoors. The last week has been brutal out there, I mean way beyond the air hurting your face cold. I saw a guy fishing the inlet the other day, more power to you buddy. The water was an extreme low tide with chocolate milk for water. Today is much nicer and we will get a chance to maybe do a little crappie and perch fishing.

Winter is the best time to go through last year’s gear, clean it up, or replace parts and rigs. Grease the reels, after you clean them. Check the rods for wear, the guides for burrs and cracks. The ceramic guides for saltwater can crack or get nicked. Those spots will wreak havoc on line, especially braid.

You can run a cotton all around the guides. If any of the cotton gets caught or left behind check that area for a crack or bad spot. Replacing guides is easy, just find a local rod builder for the job.

Duck getting out of dodge when it spotted the eagle.

The animals that rely on the outdoors for food never stop hunting and fishing. When people look at us like we are nuts for fishing in this cold, the response is always the same. Fish have to eat year round, they don’t feed seasonally.

I watched an eagle yesterday hunt between the ice flows in the Indian River near Millsboro. It was circling the ducks below and looking hard at which one he wanted to grab. The ducks had a different plan and scattered in different directions. Frustrating the bald eagle. One duck went hard for the shore line and around the corner, the eagle followed, dove in fast, but had already rounded the corner. I don’t know if the duck survived or if the eagle got its meal, but it was amazing to watch.

Pickerel on a spinner caught by Andrew Hansen in Millville, Del.

The fishing has been great for some rather large double digit tautog on the charter and head boats. This time of year can be one cold day on the water but very rewarding if you put in the time. Otherwise it is bank hopping for freshwater bass and pickerel.

Catching pickerel is a blast, or as we like to call them, snot rockets or ditch pickles, that is one fast slimy fish. They will hit anything shiny, they are like the bluefish of the freshwater realm. They eat anything that moves and are too much fun to catch. Just about every pond has them and some are loaded more than others.

Cape Henlopen pier had some cool ice formations on that 10-degree windy day.

Hunters have been doing well waterfowling, how you boys could stand that negative five degrees the other day is beyond me. I have foul weather gear, but man that was cold! The house was nice and warm, now if we could just shoot out the living room window it would be great.

This time of year is tough, warm to extreme cold days. It is the trials and tribulations of living in a seasonal area, and I for one love it. Now bring on more snow for the car hoods and four wheelers!

Huge thanks to everyone for coming out and supporting the Millville Volunteer Fire Company at their inaugural Outdoorsman Marketplace, it was a great success. Now get ready for the Delmarva Outdoors Expo April 26th to the 28th.

Gift card drive

Delaware Surf Fishing has organized a gift card drive to help out the Coast Guard Indian River Station crews. You can drop by Crooked Hammock Brewery this evening from 4 to 8 p.m. to drop off any cards. Cards must be $20 or less and no cash cards, such as Amex or Visa. Gift cards only. You can also drop off at Easy Speak Spirits in Milford.

Rich King’s outdoors column runs Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

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