Martino: Finally spring has sprung
“I am so ready for this,” said my friend Mark Cook as we pulled into the boat ramp of a small Fulton County lake, his Nitro boat in tow following our every move. “I have waited all winter for this,” he added, referring to the first warm days of spring, even though we were still dressed in cold weather clothing.
After backing the boat into the water Cook touched the ignition bringing 150 horses to life for the first time since last fall. “I love the smell of outboard exhaust in the morning,” he said with a laugh, even though I doubt he was joking.
It wasn’t too far back when a thick layer of ice capped the tops of area lakes and reservoirs. Now, rippling waters lap against shorelines. Without a doubt, fishing during our spring season can bring the year’s best rewards. Not mentioning the upcoming morel and wild turkey hunting seasons.
After months of fighting off cabin fever or staring at small holes cut into the ice, it’s energizing to get outside with long rods again, whipping baits through the air allowing us to cover vast amounts of water. And if you pick the right spot and the right day you can even catch fish – lots of fish.
Successful early season fishing requires a bit of preparation. Coach Bob Knight once said “the will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win.” But this column isn’t about basketball. Nope, we are talking about fishing here. Yet this quote is equally important in angling as it is in the sport which made it famous. By the way, for the record, Coach Knight loves to fish.
For the majority of people, fishing isn’t a win or lose proposition. It is more of a success-failure gig, but success at catching fish, just like winning, takes some preparation.
Most anglers take time during the off-season to specifically prepare for this special time of year. I personally don’t think Indiana has an off-season since our winters provide us opportunities to ice fish. So for people like me, down-time rests with that short period when ice becomes unsafe and open-water fishing remains a few days away. Regardless of when your off-season is, a little preparation can go a long way to insuring months of productive, angling fun.
My preparation usually starts with emptying out the boat and taking inventory. Items I haven’t used in several years get taken out of rotation. Before spooling on new line, I check the condition of everything, boat, rods, reels, lures and waders. Open water rods and reels get cleaned and of course, loved on a little! It’s like getting reacquainted with old friends.
This also gives me time to put everything back where it belongs so I can find it for immediate deployment. The best thing about doing this as early as possible is when those first much welcomed, warm rays of spring come around, I’m not digging through last year’s mess. It’s also time to integrate all the new tackle acquired throughout the winter months.
In Indiana the tail end of March and month of April can provide the season’s hottest action, especially for early spawners like walleyes and crappies. To up the odds, wait for a warm sunny day when the wind isn’t howling. Savvy anglers target shallow bays and coves on the north side of lakes and ponds where the water warms first.
But, equally important as catching fish is doing our part to protect the sport we love. There are many ways to give back. First and foremost is to introduce a child to our fishing pursuits. The memories made will far outlast any type of fishing equipment, no matter how durable it may be. You will also be creating a much needed and important friend for the future of our environment.
Another way is to purchase a fishing license, even if all your fishing exploits are enjoyed on private waters, where no license is required. Proceeds from license sales help fund state efforts to protect waterways, stock fish, construct boat ramps and public access sites.
Another way to contribute is to purchase fishing tackle. Who doesn’t love that! Excise taxes levied on this equipment are returned back to individual states, based on the number of licenses sold. This money is also used to promote and protect the sport of fishing and boating.
And, if that’s not enough, you can always join one of the many state or local conservation groups. On the state and national levels there are dozens of worthwhile organizations. Locally, Kokomo is home to several prominent clubs. The Wildcat Guardians are well-known and respected for their efforts in promoting our paddling sports while protecting the well-being of our Wildcat Creek and other flowing waterways. If competitive bass fishing is more to your liking, the Kokomo Bass Anglers provide the perfect opportunity to advance your fishing knowledge while interacting with some of our area’s best fishermen.
Thankfully our glorious spring season is upon us, even if the thermometer may say otherwise. Make sure to take some time to enjoy the welcome weather and the natural resources available to all of us. See you on the water!