Tips to help you prepare for great spring fishing

Spring fishing is almost here. Are you ready?

Division of Wildlife Resources employees have a unique way of knowing when spring is about to arrive. The increasing number of phone calls they receive from anglers, asking, "Is the ice off yet?" is a sure and exciting sign.

Re-spooling your reel with fresh fishing line
Putting new fishing line on your reel is one of the best things you can do to ensure a good beginning to your spring fishing season.
Photo by Ron Stewart

"These calls usually start on the first sunny day in January and become a regular part of our day by the beginning of March," says Ron Stewart, regional conservation outreach manager with the DWR.

To help you get the most from your spring fishing experience, Stewart asked several DWR biologists who are also avid anglers what they do to get ready to fish each spring.

Here's what he found:

Replace your fishing line

To Stewart's surprise, everyone he asked starts their spring preparation the same way: they replace all of their fishing line, especially monofilament line.

Reasons they gave for replacing their fishing line included "the line gets brittle," "it breaks easily," "it doesn't have enough stretch or strength" and "dry, coiled lines don't cast as well."

Everyone also had a story to tell about how they lost a big fish because they were using an old line.

Lures, flies and catalogs

Sorting and replacing lures, flies and other tackle seemed to be the activity the biologists did next. This combined with some time spent on the Internet and flipping through catalogs to check out the latest and greatest stuff!

Ed Johnson showed Stewart a diagram of a fishing reel he bought last year. He wanted to take his reel apart to clean it, check the springs and lube the gears, so he looked for and found a diagram of the reel on the Internet.

The reel isn't the only item Johnson has diagrams for: a few years ago, he sold his boat and bought a sea-going kayak, which he equipped for fishing.

"I try to go through everything before my first trip," Johnson said. "That way I know what I've got, what needs to be fixed and what should be replaced or upgraded. I want everything to be in good working order before I get [to the water]."

"Other than checking lines and sorting tackle, I also like to tie a few flies," biologist Garn Birchell added.

Preparing your boat

Before he loads his fishing gear for his first spring trip, Ryan Mosley takes time to prepare his boat.

"Boats require a lot of maintenance," Mosley said. "Taking extra precautions on a regular basis can prevent hassles once you get out on the water."

Mosley provides the following tips to help you get your fishing boat ready for this spring:

  1. Drain the fluids in the lower units. "Draining these fluids is recommended annually, and it's a good precaution, as I can see if any gear wear is visible by looking for metal flakes on the drain plug magnet," he said. "If there's water in the lower unit, the water is usually the first fluid to drain out, which indicates a leak in the seals."
  2. Clean the spark plugs to remove any carbon build-up, and check the spark plugs' gap. This ensures your boat will run smooth and use less gasoline.
  3. Pull the prop and grease the shaft. "This keeps the prop from freezing on the shaft and allows me to inspect the shaft for fishing line, which can trash the seals," Mosley said.
  4. Inspect the fuel lines for cracking, and change or clean the fuel filters. "It's got to have fuel to run!" Mosley said. "I also check the battery fluid levels, remove corrosion on the battery terminals, and charge the batteries to capacity."
  5. Tighten all interior screws, which can loosen over the course of a year. Also, wax the hull to remove hard water stains and prevent new water stains. Check the air pressure in the trailer tires, including the spare; check the lug nuts and any trailer bolts to make sure they're tight; and grease the hubs.
  6. "Finally, I make sure I have all the appropriate safety gear and that it functions properly," Mosley said. "This includes the bilge, the horn or whistle, the kill switch, life jackets, fire extinguisher, throwable cushion and first aid kit."

"With all this preparation, it's probably a good thing there is a lag between the hot ice fishing and the open water angling opportunities," Stewart said.

"When the fish can't keep your line tight, it's time to replace lines, lures and flies, and to catch up on other maintenance."

Courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources