Getting ready for fishing opener

by Nick Wognum

Fishing opener is already upon us and we should have a great opener, weather permitting. So where you gonna go? <BR><BR>Picking the first spot to fish for the year can either be a no-brainer based on past success or a crap shoot if you’re like the rest of us and have had full and empty stringers on the openers over the years.<BR><BR>In our house we have a solid vote for Basswood Lake but as of this writing, no permit for our favorite fishing grounds. <BR><BR>So, we’re back to the local lakes. This is a tough choice as well. From Fall to Farm and Shagawa to Birch as well as the inviting Lake Vermilion, there are many spots where we could be launching the Lund Saturday morning. <BR><BR>Of course a number of things have to happen before there will be any launching. First and foremost we need to make sure the motor is ready to go for the year. <BR><BR>That’s usually a Friday-night-before-opener chore with a quick trip up and down the lake the goal. <BR><BR>But there’s always the chance we’ll be sitting next to the DNR-installed dock at a landing, pulling repeatedly with no fire in the hole. <BR><BR>The reason for this is that we don’t put our boat away until the firearms deer season has drawn to a close. Procrastination? No, access to remote hunting areas. <BR><BR>So, there is a chance of ice inside the motor before it was set in the garage for the winter. Hopefully it’s a remote chance and we’ll be good to go for fishing opener.<BR><BR>There’s also the trailer that might need a once-over as well, from tires and hubs to wiring and lights, the trailer is one of the important keys to getting out on the water.<BR><BR>Then there’s the old trolling motor. I can say old because I believe it predates all three of our children. It is, however, a loaner. I borrowed it years ago from my relative John in Illinois who wasn’t using a MinnKota while trolling the fields as he was planting soybeans. <BR><BR>I’ve been looking at a small four stroke as a replacement but have suffered from a severe stage of sticker shock. But getting rid of that big battery from the back of the boat would really be nice. Maybe next year. <BR><BR>Of course you have to have your fish finder ready to go as well. Now that I think of it, the one I have belongs to John as well. Hope it still works. Nothing fancy but it tells me the depth and if there are fish floating by under the boat. <BR><BR>Of course you have to dig out the life jackets, boat cushions, anchor, oars, bail bucket, landing net, minnow pail, leech locker and a number of other things that take up room in the boat. <BR><BR>A real important item for opener takes up the least amount of room: licenses. Not just your Minnesota fishing license and trout stamp, but the license on your boat as well. <BR><BR>If there is one day out of the year you have a good chance of being checked by the friendly game warden, it’s the opener. We’ve been checked several times and so far have passed with flying colors. Make sure your licenses are up to snuff. <BR><BR>As long as we’re going to make the effort to go out on the lake, how’s our fishing gear looking? Tackle box stocked and ready to go? How’s the rod look? Is there new line on each reel? <BR><BR>Getting all of this done before opener can be darn near impossible. More than likely something will either not get done or left behind as the boat is backed into the water Saturday morning. <BR><BR>There’s also the chance something won’t work. I have my doubts about the fish finder and trolling motor, they looked pretty old when I walked by them in the garage the other day. <BR><BR>Well, John, I think it’s time you upgraded your equipment. Now let’s talk about those four stroke kickers…