Spring ChecklistIt’s that time of the year again. No, not tax season. No, not baseball season. Any angler will tell you where I’m going with this: it’s time for fishing season. As the snow melts, the ice thaws, and the temperature rises, a fisherman’s thoughts turn to the waters and reeling in that first lunker of the season. Sometimes, anglers can get caught up in the anticipation of getting out on the water and forget some of the more obvious, and not so obvious, elements. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, I’ve outlined a few basic essentials for your checklist this spring.

First and foremost, an annual fishing license should be first on anyone’s list for the spring. These little beauties allow you to fish without worry for an entire year. Also, if you live in an area where trout and salmon run, I always suggest springing for the trout/salmon stamp as well. It may cost a few dollars more, but the added option of fishing for these great species during the late fall and winter is worth it.

This is also the time of year when many anglers dust off their tackle boxes and see which items need to be replaced. Rusty or dirty tools like knives, pliers, and forceps should be cleaned, sharpened, or replaced altogether. Hooks, swivels, and sinkers that have seen too many seasons should be replaced as well. Now is also the time to replace lures that have been damaged or worn down by consistent use. You’ll also want to strip the old line from your reels and respool them before heading out. Monofilament, for example, will weaken and will develop more memory as it sits, unused, on a spool. Your braid should be fine, however, as long as there’s enough of it left on the reel. The backing may need to be replaced though. Other items that may need to be replaced, that some may overlook, include batteries for electronics, component parts for your reels, and little things like hook keepers and line clippers.

As far as new editions to the tackle box are concerned, anglers have many options. This time of year, many retailers have a fair amount of old and new models for items like reels and rods. This means last year’s editions are on clearance. There’s nothing wrong with these items; they’re just last year’s models. If you’ve been in the market for a new rod or reel, then I suggest checking out some of these deals. Also, now may be the best time to sample any of the new lures on the market for the year. Pick up one or two of these lures and try them out this season. Who knows, you may buy the perfect lure for your local fishery. 

In fishing, preparation is crucial, and the start of each new season is no exception. As I stated earlier, many fishermen—myself included sometimes—are so excited about getting back on the water that we forget the most simple, but most important things like licenses or restocking the items we’re out of. Consider this article a checklist for the bare essentials of the season. After all, getting caught on the water without a license is very expensive.

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