- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Salt is as old as the sea, and the sea has been around since right before God said, “This is good.” Salt, too, is good, in the proper places and in the proper doses. Without it, we wouldn’t have saltwater and, what’s worse, we wouldn’t have saltwater fishing. God forbid!
But salt can take a toll on your saltwater equipment, rusting or corroding every unprotected metal surface it touches. It can ruin rods, reels, boats, motors, lures, hooks, trailers, trucks, knives, pliers and anything else that has metal in it. I’ve even had keys rust in my pocket.
So what do you do about it?
Well, first you have to accept the fact that no matter what you do, salt will get on and into areas where you don’t want it to be. That does not mean that you can’t, however, protect against it to some degree, and also get rid of it where it turns up.
Products such as WD-40 and CorrosionX are excellent at rust prevention, but only after reels have been thoroughly rinsed with fresh water.
There are several rust preventative sprays on the market. WD-40 has been the standard for years, but others, like CorrosionX, seem to work well too. But even more important than using preventative spray is getting the salt off your equipment as quickly after exposure as possible. There’s no special equipment needed for this—just simple soap and water, or a coating from one of the products mentioned above, followed by the wiping down of all surfaces. It doesn’t take but a few seconds, but it can extend the lifetime of your equipment by years.
Many people lay their rods down on the grass and give them a good, high-pressure hosing. When I'm staying in a motel, I take the rods and reels into the shower and hit them full tilt with water while rubbing my soapy hands all over them. When I think they have gotten a good dose of saltwater, I’ll put the reels in a bucket of fresh water and just let them soak. But don’t stop there; take a can of WD-40 or CorrosionX and spray everything liberally. This will displace some of the remaining water and also coat metal parts with rust preventative.
I’ll admit, though, that there are purists who disagree with using water on reels; they say never submerge a reel—even in fresh water—to clean it. But if that were the only thing you can do to quickly get the saltwater off, I’d still do it.
Many tackle shops will give saltwater reels a thorough cleaning and lubricating, but anglers can do plenty themselves to prolong the life of the reel.
Reels are the most critical component of a fisherman’s saltwater equipment; and may require more maintenance, especially if they really took a saltwater soaking. Some people take their favorite reels into a tackle shop to be cleaned and lubricated. Jay McBride, fishing department manager at McBride’s Guns in Austin, Texas, says they charge $15 for a good cleaning. That’s certainly cheaper than buying a new reel when one rusts up tight.
While most people can perform a little ordinance work, complete disassembly of a reel with a lot of working parts may be beyond the mechanical ability of many weekend fishermen. McBride laughed at me one day when I came in with a coffee can and a concerned look on my face. “Oh, been overhauling your reel, again?” he said with a smirk.
According to McBride, the three bearings of a bait-casting reel are the most likely parts to go bad if neglected, so they need to be regularly cleaned and lubricated. To do this you need to unscrew the cast control cap and wash and lubricate the bearing underneath it.
Other maintenance you can perform is to unscrew the three thumbscrews on the side of the reel by the handle and separate the side plate from the spool and the reel frame. (This is simple enough to master, even for the mechanically challenged,like me!) Carefully rinse or
Any and all parts of the motor need thorough rinsing and maintenance after each exposure to salt water.
clean and lubricate the spool shaft bearings on the spool and on the side plate. You can also use a Q-tip to reach hard to reach areas instead of washing them. A knife blade and a gun cleaning patch or piece of paper towel will work in a pinch. While you have the reel apart, clean every surface with a rag covered with rust preventative. Leave the spool shaft clean and dry. Lastly, store the reels with the drag completely released.
For spinning reels, unscrew the handle and side plates and rinse and lubricate. The problem is that the rotor bearing is under the spool and hard to get to. “It’s not beyond the capabilities of most people, but you have to be able to take something apart and put it back to together again,” McBride told us. “Most people don’t want to do it. When the bearings start growling, you need to bring it in.”
The maintenance tips for rods and reels applies to lures and hooks as well. Hooks also need to be regularly re-sharpened.
Then there are boats, motors and trailers. Same story: wash ‘em! An avid Texas angler I know, who keeps his boat on the Texas coast, washes it after every use with a bucket of soapy water and a mop.
Some skippers who use a trailer to get their boats to and from the coast will run everything through a car wash afterwards--boat, trailer and vehicle. One afternoon after coming back from Padre Island we hit the first car wash on the mainland and washed the powdery Padre Island sand off and out of my jeep. It worked so well, we stripped off everything except our swimsuits and took a car wash shower ourselves, much to the interest of onlookers who watched us as we disrobed.
The inevitable result of exposing equipment to saltwater without cleaning it off afterwards.
Others on the way home from the coast will take their rigs to a nearby freshwater lake and run them for a few minutes to de-salinate. Trailers need to have their bearings washed and lubricated as well.
Motors that aren’t designed for saltwater must be flushed. Even those built for saltwater need it, according to Gary Love of Travis Boats and Motors. If there is no convenient freshwater lake, fit a garden hose to the motor (all motors have this capacity) and wash it out. “Just screw it in, turn on the water, start the motor and let it run a few minutes,” Love says.
When it comes to saltwater equipment, remember that the key to a longer life is getting the salt off.