This is the time of year when all fishermen are starting to get antsy. Spring is coming (all too slowly) and we want to get aboard and head out to the deep water where the big ones await.

So until the weather lets us out of port, it’s a good time to do some planning and review some good tips that can lead to offshore fishing success. Here are five solid tips that any angler can use.

1. Check your tackle.

When heading offshore, you know the species you’re after. Now is the time to review your tackle box and make sure you have the right gear for the job. Whether you plan to fish with live bait or artificial jigs and lures, now is the time to make sure you have everything on hand and ready to go.

2. Clean the leaders.

Often overlooked, leaders can quickly become fouled with algae, diesel soot and several other nasty things. Off-season is a good time to clean all your leaders with rubbing alcohol, plain saltwater, or even just a rag. And check for frays that could lead to sudden failure when a big one is on the line.

3. Know your knots.

Every charter boat captain knows that the knot is the weakest link. Do some research and practice knot-tying before you head out to sea. Remember to wet your knots when cinching down and pull tight to avoid slippage. A bad knot tied tight is better than a good knot tied loose.

4. Keep a fishing log.

Remember where you fished last year, and what you caught on each piece of tackle? If you kept a written logbook, you would have that data at your fingertips. Make it a habit to jot down weather, location, baits used and species caught for every offshore trip. It will help make future expeditions more successful.

5. Safety first.

Getting caught in bad weather when you’re miles offshore is no picnic. The time to double-check your communications systems, your maps and charts, and all your safety gear, from life jackets to flares, is before you head out.  Take the time now to review all this and more. It could save your life.