Mar 10, 2017

The Magic of March

By: Bob Wilson 

Every year, March and April bring many changes to the fishing world. It's that time of year when ice fishing is still hanging in there, but open water is just around the corner. Winter starts to break and the weather casually warms up. This causes a lot of things to happen.

Waters start slowly warming up, and the fish being the sensitive creatures that they are, feel this change and respond. Almost all species become more active and more aggressive. They start coming out of their dormant state to begin feeding heavily and prepare for spawning. The fish also concentrate more with the start of the migration for spawning. This is especially the case for walleye and crappie. Walleye will migrate upriver on the river systems toward reefs, and rocky spawning areas on the landlocked lakes. Crappie will begin to move into openings of shallow water bays. This can be a great time to be on the ice going after the newly aggressive fish.

It can also be some of the most dangerous times on the ice. With the warming temperatures, ice conditions begin to deteriorate. It is especially dangerous when fishing moving water. The ice may look safe, but you can never tell what the underside of the ice is really like. There will come a point when ice fishing is no longer an option because of unsafe ice conditions. Some anglers will head north to squeeze out that last little bit of ice fishing if they can.

I like to use this time to get the jigging and trolling rods out and prepare for the start of some of the best open water fishing the year has to offer. With ice leaving and open water showing up, this is when fisherman start transitioning equipment. Make sure you don't miss out on the fish of a lifetime because you left last year’s old line on your open water reels, did not use Baitmate Fish Attractant, or because you didn't inspect and sharpen the hooks on your jig heads and stick baits. Do you really want to lose a fish to a rusty hook that broke? I'm sure we all know the answer to that.

These issues can be easily prevented with a simple inspection. Go through your jigs and get rid of the ones with rusted hooks and sharpen the ones that are not rusted. Go through your crank/stick bait box and change out any rusted trebles there may be. Moving on to your reels; inspect, clean, oil or grease where needed and go over your spools for any unforeseen wear. Then, re-spool those reels with your favorite line. Just as important as your reels is your rod. First, I wipe the rods from top to bottom, then I take a Q-tip and run it on the inside of my rod eyes looking for nicks or chips, and if needed, replace the rod or eyes. This is just as bad as not changing your line. If you are like me, add some new baits to the box, and keep Baitmate Fish Attractant on hand at all times.

Now that all our fishing gear is ready, are my boat, motor, and trailer good to go for the upcoming fishing season? Just because you winterized and changed the gear lube, or if you have a 4 stroke, and did an oil and filter change, it is only a small start to preparing for the upcoming open water season.

Let's start with the most under looked part of your rig, the trailer. “But, I only go 10 miles or less.” Yes, but how long will your rig sit in your driveway without moving? What hurts a trailer is sun and lack of use. Tires rot, valve stems go bad and let's not forget your bunks might be rotting or have bad rollers. One last thing, your wheel bearings need a little grease to make the season. If you take care of all basic care and maintenance that your trailer needs, it will outlive your boat.

In terms of your boat and motor, the motor must be ran and tested, a pressure test should be done and the plugs checked and/or changed. Moving on to the boat, check all of the pumps in the livewells and the auto and manual bilge pumps. Make sure you have a few spare boat plugs, and all batteries should be charged and in good working order. Grease the prop and check to see if there is any fishing line on the prop shaft of your lower unit. If this isn’t checked, it can be a very costly mistake. If all that is good, you are ready for the water!

So, while you are trying to end the ice season with a bang, keep a few things in mind: Be careful of the changing ice conditions, take an evening to give your open water equipment an inspection before using it, and, as always, remember to have fun and get kids involved in the sport of fishing.