With spring in the air and the Northeastern Ontario coming to life, I am sure many of you are getting excited for the upcoming fishing and boating season. With fishing season just freshly opened, are you and your gear ready to hit the water?
If you answered "no" or are unsure, then this blog is for you. In the next few sections I would like to share some tips for being confident, prepared, and ready for any challenge that comes your way.
When heading out on any type of outdoors adventure in the BIG Northeastern Ontario region, you should always plan ahead and head out prepared. Prior to going on any adventure always let someone know where you are going or leave a note at home with your access point. My must haves when heading out on an adventure are water and food (granola bars), first aid kit, matches, compass and a camera. No matter the extent of your adventure, these items will help keep you safe, healthy and happy.
Fishing Spring Maintenance
As anglers of all levels, we spend our hard earned money on all different kinds of gear from rods and reels, to the countless number of baits available. These high-end items deserve to be taken care of, and spring is the perfect time to do so. Below are some simple and effective measures to take when getting geared up for catching the fish of a lifetime!
A simple overview of the components is a great place to start; check the reel seat for a secure connection, review the blank for any deep chips or cracks, and check the guides for damage. These are all critical components of the rod and should be repaired or replaced. My final step is to use a wet cloth and wipe down all my rods, remove scales from bait, oil residue from soft plastics, and any other grit and grime that can accumulate over the season.
Reels, along with your rod, are the most critical piece of equipment in fishing. Reel maintenance ensures your drag system pulls smoothly, that your handle and spool turn freely, and that your line releases effortlessly. While taking apart and cleaning a reel can be an overwhelming task, I strongly suggest that you do an annual cleaning. Follow the instructions provided from the manufacturer, as all reels are different. You can buy cleaning kits that include reel oil, grease, cleaning brush, and an oil rag. Another alternative is to look up reel cleaning services in your area - they charge around $15-20 per reel.
Bait and Tackle
This is the business end of the fishing spectrum that all anglers cannot get enough of. It is always nice to start the season by looking at all the tackle you have invested in over the years. While sorting and organizing your tackle, keep an eye out for rusted or bent hooks, damaged split rings, or damaged baits. Replacing these components is a very simple and worthwhile task. Components range from $2-6 per pack. This process will give you the confidence to land a fish on every cast.
More often than not when fighting a fish, your line is the failing component, but let’s not let that be the case this year! How long has it been since you last re-spooled your line? Are you still using the line that came on your reel? If you are unsure or answered "yes" to either of these questions, I highly suggest putting new line on your reel. With the new super lines on the market, there is no real schedule to replacing your line. Braided lines often have a longer life due to their abrasion resistance; however, they do wear out. If the line is losing its colour and starting to fray, this is a good sign that it's time for a replacement. As for monofilament and fluorocarbon lines, look for discolouring and memory as initial notifications. For example, does the line stay coiled when off the spool? If you are keener on scheduled line maintenance, I’d suggest replacing monofilament and fluorocarbon yearly, and braided line every other year.
No matter what kind of boat you have, from a 10-foot jon boat to a 21-foot bass boat loaded with all the bells and whistles, you have to be prepared when on the water. Always complete a circle check before launching your boat. Check the hull for any damages that can cause leaks, the motor and prop for any damage, and make sure that all the lights are in working order on both the boat and trailer.
Items to ALWAYS have in your boat are as follows:
- Pleasure Craft Operator Card (boating license)
- Approved Personal Floatation Devices for each person on board (must be out and accessible)
- Buoyant Heaving Line
- Bailing Device
- Manual Propelling Device (Paddle or Oar)
- Sound Signalling Device (Whistle or Horn)
- Flashlight (with Batteries)
- Fire Extinguisher
- Bilge Pump, if applicable
I hope that you are able to implement some of these tips in your fishing routine for years to come. We have an outstanding fishing and boating resource here in Northeastern Ontario, and with our continued respect for the environment, we hope that this resource will be around for many future generations to enjoy. Keep your tip up, line in the water, and have a blast this season!