Saturday, February 2, 2013

How to Keep Busy in the Off Season: Part 1

Like any sport there is a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready for the upcoming season, whether is it physical,mental or at times financial we all have a routine that keeps us sane over the long winter months and keeps us sharp and ready for the next season. In this 3 part series we will look at some ways to keep busy in the off season. In part one we will talk about Inventory management and prepping your arsenal for the next season

Step 1: Taking Inventory

I know this can be somewhat painful, but at the end of each season I pull part all of my tackle boxes, and bags so I can get a good look at what I have left.  By looking over my arsenal I'm mentally going over the baits I used, lost or simply threw away... Not only is this a good visual reminder as to what baits worked for me (or didn't) but it also allows me to begin the process of planning out my purchases for for next year.

Step 2: Make a Wish List

Creating a wish list or grocery list is very important, it keeps you focused and ensures you don't get caught up by all those shiny baits and loose site of the big prize. It's easy to walk the aisles of your local tackle shop and grab the hot new you have been drooling over, but when it comes down to it, will you remember what size hooks your out of? or what size tungsten weights you need. This is where lists come in handy.

Some websites like Land Big Fish provide helpful tools for creating and maintaining a wish list. Their website allows you to add items to your shopping cart and then turn that shopping cart into a wish list to be purchased at a later date. On the LBF site you can create and maintain multiple wish lists and even name them.. I currently have wish lists for "terminal tackle", "soft baits", "frogs" and one just for hot new baits I may want to try. When Im ready to place my monthly order I simply go through each wish list and add items to my cart.. this ensures I don't forget something I needed (or more importantly "wanted:)

Step 3: Financial Planning

Planning your re-ups or purchase schedule for the new season is not only a good financial move but also a tactical one.

On the financial side of this coin, not all of us can afford to drop hundreds of dollars at a time on fishing gear, so by scheduling or breaking out your purchases over the coarse of the off season you will lessen the stress placed on your bank account and still have the ability to stock up on key items like line, hooks and tungsten. All three of these items have a couple things in common, they get used up fast, and they carry a heft price tag. Line as an example can easily average $20 a spool, and a typical angler may refill a single reel multiple times a season..multiply that by the number of reels in your arsenal and you can see where Im going with this.

Buying early can also be used as a tactical advantage, how many times in July or August have you walked into a tackle shop in search of a bait only to stare at an empty shelf? once is too often in my opinion and thus began my goal to begin stocking up long before the ice melts on my favourite lakes. I buy my baits before the season starts and thus when the rush begins Im already stocked up and fishing while other are cursing.

The painful part, is having to open your wallet and spend that hard earned cash. Ill admit it, Im a shopper and I love to track down and buy new gear, but I do have a mortgage so proper planning (like the above) is key. I follow the above plan religiously and get to spend my season on the water,  not in the Bass Pro Shop (well, not as much time in the Bass Pro ShopStep 4: Spend your Allowance wisely

Step 4: Spending you allowance wisely

No matter how much spending money you have the goal here is to spend it wisely. Keeping up on what companies have which baits and where you will find the best deal is very important. I believe in spreading the wealth and thus I place orders with multiple tackle shops both local and on-line and buy what I need at the best prices I can. Shipping, duty, taxes and import fees play a big role when ordering on-line and choosing who I will buy from. Watch how and with what provider the company will be shipping your order with.. As a Canadian I will advise you to avoid companies that ship UPS unless you want to pay crazy fees even on the smallest of orders (on average I paid an additional 30% on top of my order when shipped via UPS)

Tip: Watch for free shipping offers,  many on-line retailers will offer free shipping if you spend a minimum amount of $$.  These are great ways to get more bang for your buck and spend that money on baits and not on UPS. (Canadians get shafted by these offers more often then not, but the Bass Pro Shop has now started offering free shipping into Canada)

All in all I hope this gives you some ideas/suggestions on how to plan out your inventory and purchases for the upcoming season. I have personally have orders queued up for Feb, March and April

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