The only problem with saltwater fishing is the saltwater. It eats up everything from cheap hooks to fifty thousand dollar bay boats. The angler that chooses to ignore that fact will eventually either give up fishing due to the cost of replacing equipment or be forced to take on an extra job to support his favorite pastime.

Fortunately for local saltwater fishermen, Mother Nature is an ally of sorts in that returning to the landing usually means running back through brackish or even fresh water in the bayous leading to the lake. That high speed rinsing provides at least a modest substitute for a trip to the car wash and trailers are spared a corrosive dunking.

While not having to trailer a great distance with a boat covered with saltwater is a huge benefit, parking it in the driveway for even a single day before washing it down can still lead to unwanted problems. Every bead of water has time to evaporate leaving only the salt behind. Those tiny crystals of salt find their way into steering mechanisms, electronic connections, and any fitting on the boat that was designed to move freely.

The first items to show the effects of neglect, however, are your fishing reels and any lures tucked away in plastic boxes in your supposedly dry storage compartments. The hooks and split rings seemingly rust overnight and before you know it you have a box full of high dollar hard baits covered in rust as well.

I think it is fair to say that more lures are lost each year to corrosion than fish or broken lines. I still lose a few to negligence, but I have greatly reduced the casualties via the following practice. I never put hard lures that I have used during the day back in their storage boxes while on the water. Once off the water, I put them away only after rinsing them with fresh water and setting them aside to dry.

Gene Locke passed along another solution to the same problem so long as you remember that there are hooks mixed in with the cold drinks. He said that friends that he fished with in Florida simply throw their lures in the melted ice in the bottom of their coolers and wipe them down at the end of the day.

Either way, it is another opportunity to check bent or dull hooks, split rings, etc. Before you throw away any hard bait because the body is also covered with rust, break out the Bon Ami. Remove the hooks and split rings and wipe the bait down with a paste consisting of the cleaner and a little water. It removes everything from rust to grease without damaging the paint job and the first lure you save covers the cost of the versatile cleaner!

Reels are another story. You are far better off simply submerging them in a bucket of clean fresh water than spraying them with water under pressure. That pressure forces those tiny beads of saltwater behind the spool, into the level wind and bearings and basically inside any moving parts. Once the water condenses, the concentrated salt starts eating up metal parts.

For the short term, you are best served by removing the side cover opposite the handle and rinsing everything visible with tap water. Wipe down your level wind, any exposed bearings, and the spool and shaft. A drop or two of quality reel oil helps, but do not spray it down with WD-40!

The final touch which is simple, but all too often overlooked, is carefully stripping about half the line off your spool and winding it back on while holding tension with a clean wet cloth. It is an especially good practice when using braided lines as they tend to hold more salt in their coils. At least once a year, you need to take your reels in for a thorough cleaning.

We had to fish much harder this past week, but it was far from a total wash. The lake itself was more of a challenge than I needed, but the bite at the jetties and in the river was not bad at all. Redfish were still doing their thing in both places, but the easier trout bite was on the jetties.

We caught a lot of small trout in the river as well as rat reds and flounder fishing finger mullet on Carolina rigs. I truly believe that 75 percent of the finger mullet and rat reds in this part of the world are holding up in the river five hundred yards either side of the DuPont Outfall.

I had two good flounder days on fish up to 19-inches fishing 10 to 12 feet of water with chartreuse tube jigs rigged on quarter ounce heads. Forcing a small piece of a torn up GULP shrimp into the hollow body cavity not only draws more bites, but lasts much longer than tipping with pieces of shrimp.

A north wind and strong outgoing tide also helped the flounder bite. Points and cuts near deep water were holding not only good size fish, but good numbers as well. When they are doing their thing, it doesn’t take long to fill a five fish limit. While it was fun catching them, we would chase reds and trout as soon as we limited rather than taking a chance on killing fish that we could not keep anyway.

Do not forget that it is time to renew your Texas license!