Spring is a great time of year to enjoy the Idaho outdoors. The foliage is greening up, wildlife is out and about and the weather is flirting with the first 70-degree day of 2018.
It’s also a great time to go fishing. Warmer weather means species like bass, bluegill and catfish are starting to stir, and April is one of Fish & Game’s busiest months for stocking trout in local waters.
There is no doubt there are fish out there waiting to be caught. But are we ready to catch them? Many anglers trade their tackle in for hunting gear, ice fishing rods or warmer indoor activities during the winter months. Before you take your first trip this spring, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready:
Make a Tackle Shop Run: First things first: Make sure to grab your 2018 fishing license! Ice anglers will be ahead of the game on that one. Once you are legal, it’s time to re-stock the tackle box. Hooks, sinkers and a handful of lures should do the trick. I always like to reload with old favorites and throw in a new toy to experiment with. Bass anglers should replenish their supply of soft plastics, which become chewed up and worn out over time. Same goes for fly anglers and their favorite patterns.
Tune Up Your Gear: This is an important one, especially if your equipment has been sitting idle all winter. Take a few minutes to sharpen your hooks and organize your tackle. Respooling with fresh line is a must — I recommend 8-pound Stren mono for the all-purpose angler. Greasing and oiling your reels will help them avoid rust and maintain a high level of performance over time. And speaking of tune-ups…
Get Ready to Float: Like your gear, your fishing vessel has probably seen little use since September. Gas up your boat, take the motor in for a tune-up, test your battery, refill your trailer tires and grease up your axles ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about it on the morning of your first trip. If you fish from a float tube or pontoon, check for leaks and patch any holes — it’s much easier to do in the comfort of your home or garage. If your boat needs parts or repairs, now is the time to order them or schedule a mechanic. Once spring really gets rolling, wait lists can become painfully long.
Clear Your Schedule: Once your equipment is ready to rock, all you need is a free weekend or afternoon. That can be easier said than done, so plan ahead to make sure it happens. When chilly weather hits, bundle up and get the yard work done, or head out and run the errands that could otherwise interfere with a perfect day on the water. Believe me — when you’re the first boat to hit the lake on the first bluebird spring day of 2018, you’ll be glad you were prepared to make it happen.
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors@idahostatesman.