Getting Ready For Open-Water Fishing

By Bob Jensen, courtesy of The Fishing Wire

Photo of Bob Jensen with a crappie catch

Check It Before You Launch

There are still some anglers on the ice in my area of North Iowa, but they won't be out there much longer. The ice is turning dark on the lakes and the rivers are breaking up. It's time to start seriously thinking about the open water fishing season. Following are some things we should be doing to get ready to go fishing.

If you have a boat, you need to make sure the batteries are ready to go. Check the charge in your electric motor batteries, and also check the start battery.

Make sure the trailer tires are inflated properly. Tires with the correct air pressure last longer and provide better gas mileage.

Check the trailer lights. Get them fixed now if need-be so they're ready to work when you're ready to go fishing.

Put sonar units in place and make sure they work when you turn them on. Same with your electric motor. Every year it's a good idea to re-familiarize yourself with your sonar. The Humminbird units that I run have a simulator mode that enables me to remind myself of all the things they'll do. Humminbirds are exceptionally easy units to run, but a quick run-through of all the functions is helpful for when you get on the water.

At the end of every fishing season, I like to take the line off my reels. This forces me to re-spool with fresh line when it's time to go fishing again. Don't start a fishing season with old line! If you haven't replaced old line, now is the time to do so.

Check Your Pockets

However, I don't take all the line off my reels. I just take forty or fifty yards off, leaving plenty of backing on the reel. I then just tie on forty or fifty yards of new line and am ready to go. Six pound test Trilene XT or Sensation for jigging or live bait rigging, 14/6 FireLine for trolling crankbaits takes care of my walleye rods.

This is the time of year when I remember to check the pockets of my Guidewear. I'm wearing outstanding rain gear from Cabela's more and more every year, which means the pockets of my Guidewear gets more filled with litter every year. Line, lure packages, candy bar wrappers, and pretty much any other form of "stuff" accumulates in the oversized pockets of my parka and bibs during the year. I know I should clean the pockets out at the end of the day, and certainly at the end of the year, but I never remember until now.

Check the pockets of your favorite fishing jacket or rainwear for litter. Sometimes I even find good stuff in there.

Do an inventory of lures and other pieces of fishing gear you will be needing this year and replenish those supplies. Then get out there. The first trip of the year is always fun, but it's more fun if you're ready. Taking care of the above tasks will help you be ready.

To see the Bob Jensen's episodes of Fishing the Midwest television on-line, go to