Tips on decommissioning your fishing gear

Posted 10/18/23

Here are some tips from the experts on putting away your fishing gear for the winter.

Rods. Calvin Wilcox of Cal’s Custom Rods (401.575.1189), Warwick said, “Clean rods with mild …

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Tips on decommissioning your fishing gear


Here are some tips from the experts on putting away your fishing gear for the winter.

Rods. Calvin Wilcox of Cal’s Custom Rods (401.575.1189), Warwick said, “Clean rods with mild soap at the end of the season, check eyes for any chipping. Eyes are made of a variety of material, many with ceramic ring inserts that often crack or chip snagging fishing line wearing it out until it breaks.”

Dave Morton of Beavertail Rod & Reel, North Kingstown (401.215.5062), said, “Give your eyes the Q-Tip test, rub the inside with a Q-Tip if it snags, hanging up a thread of cotton you should replace that eye.”

Reel maintenance starts by taking the reels off the rod, cleaning the spool of salt using mild soap, drying it and then rubbing a light oil, like W-D 40, all over the reel to help fend off harmful sale water. You can even clean and oil the reel seat on the rod, said Dave Morton. Give your reels a good cleaning, particularly when the line is off and spool exposed. Grease where directed by manufacturer, often, the reel is marked where to do this. If instructions are long gone do not hesitate to stop by your local bait or tackle shop to ask where to grease.

Rollers and handles. Morton said, “Make sure your line roller (on spinning reels) is rolling freely, most have a screw which can be taken off and light oil applied, do the same with handles so all turn freely.  Reels can be put back on rod after cleaning, but do not lock it down tight, save that for the spring.”

Line. Each year, replace used line. I generally do this throughout the season due to the high use of gear in season. But you can do a lot of prep work in the fall. It is a judgment call as to what is meant by “used”. Braid line may still be OK to leave on the reel, however, I usually take offline at the beginning of the reel that shows signs of wear. Experts say to cross braid line when spooling onto conventional reels to prevent the line from digging into the spool when a big fish is on.

I often fish with lead core line that is designed to sink in the water column when trolling for striped bass and bluefish in 20 to 35 feet of water in Narragansett Bay. I re-spool the lead core line putting the used portion on the reel first, this way you use line that is new as most anglers rarely use more than three to four colors (90’ to 120’) of line. You need to take the line off the spool to clean it thoroughly.

When you change any type of line it is important to spool tight or the line may slip on the spool. To prevent braided line from slipping on the reel, first spool some monofilament backing to the reel as it will not slip, tie braid line to the monofilament, then spool the braided line onto the reel.

Where’s the bite?

Striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, bonito. “Greenwich Bay, Apponaug and Greenwich Cove are still exploding with peanut bunker (immature Atlantic menhaden) and striped bass. So fishing is great,” said Tom Olson of Ponaug Bait & Tackle, Warwic.

Jeff Sullivan of Lucky Bait & Tackle Warren, said, “We are catching stiped bass to 30” when fishing form white perch in creeks and estuaries, both are feeding on peanut bunker. And the albies are still running along the South County beaches but they are in small pockets and very elusive.” 

Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor Marina, South Kingstown, said, “Striped bass fishing is outstanding from Narragansett to Watch Hill all along the beaches with some bluefish and chub mackerel mixed in. Bonito are being caught sporadically at the East Fishing Grounds off Block Island and in the Block Island Wind Farm.” 

“In the mid and upper Narragansett Bay area striped bass fishing is the best it has been in years with anglers catching school striped bass and keepers (28” to < 31”) at Haines Park, East Providence and at the Barrington Bridge with some bluefish mixed in.” said John Littlefield of Archie’s Bait & Tackle, Riverside.

Cod and summer flounder (fluke). “I weighed in a 16.3-pound, 33.75-inch fluke this weekend that was caught by a custom with a butterfly jig when cod fishing. And cod fishing is off the charts with anglers catching 20-pound fish at Cox Ledge,” said Elisa Cahill of Snug Harbor.

“Tautog fishing is strong in the Bay and out in front. I caught an 8-pound fish in the upper Bay on an Asian crab last week,” said Sullivan. 

John Littlefield of Archie’s said, “Tautog fishing exploded this week with customers catching shorts with keepers mixed in. Anglers are limiting out in shallower water but are having to catch ten or so shorts to get one keeper.”

The minimum size for tautog is 16 inches and as of October 15 anglers can keep five fish/person/day, just one can be over 21 inches with a ten fish per boat limit. 

Cahill of Snug Harbor, said, “Fishing east of Pt. Judith Light has been good with angles working harder in shallow water, fish are moving to deeper water where you can reach your limit more easily.  This weekend the Island Current party boat had a 10-pound fish.”

“Tuna fishing has died down a lot. However, there is still a bite off Scarborough Beach,” said Sullivan.  Cahill said, “The tuna bite is down, and it is hit or miss. The Island Current tuna trip last week yielded high numbers of school bluefin tuna caught at Hudson Cayon.”

“Freshwater fishing continues to be very strong for largemouth bass using top water lures and swim baits,” said Sullivan of Lucky’s. Trout fishing is good in fall stocked waterways.  Visit Designated Trout Waters | Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management ( for an update on ponds stocked this fall.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s master license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

fishing, fluke, gear


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