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Get ready for open water fishing now

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Brad Laabs Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

We have officially started to enter one of the "tweener" times of the year for fishing in our area. This happens two times a year. The first occurs when the spring thaw creates unpredictable and unsafe ice, and we don't have any open water. The second time we experience this in-between time is during the fall when we skim over with ice before we can safely get on the ice. It looks to me like we will have about two weeks of our "tweener" time this spring.

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These in-between times are a good time to get prepared for the next fishing season. You can put away the ice fishing gear and start organizing your summer equipment. If you are stowing a gas auger, make sure you either drain all the gas and run it out or fill and add a gas stabilizer. Disconnect the battery on your locator. For portable fish houses, you will want to make sure they are dry before putting them away until next winter. Take inventory and pack all your gear away together so it is not so difficult to find everything next November or December.

Getting ready for the open water by taking time now will save you frustration at the landing later. A little bit of preparation now will benefit when you want to get after those open water, early season, ice-out crappies and sunfish. Check your lower unit to make sure you have fresh clean oil. Check all battery connections and charge all boat batteries. Fill up with fresh gas and use some motor muffs with your garden hose to start and run your motor. Hook up electronics and power them up. There is nothing worse than getting on the water and having "no eyes" because your locator and GPS aren't working. It is not unusual to have everything working when you put it away last fall, and not have it work for you when you hook it up this spring. Don't ask me how it happens, but it does.

This is a good time to clean up your rods and reels as well as spooling with new fishing line. A good product for cleaning your cork rod handles is denatured alcohol. It will not release the glues in your handles because it evaporates so quickly. Applied with a soft clean rag, you will be able to remove all the dirt, grime, and oils that gets on the handles.

Do not use denatured alcohol to clean the rods. Do not use any solvents on the rods, as these can damage the epoxy and clear coat finishes. Mild dish soap with a soft rag will get the rod itself looking like new.

Here are a few considerations for cleaning your reels. Wipe the outside clean with a barely damp soft cloth. Dry the reels with a hair dryer. Open the reel up with proper tools (usually very small screw drivers). Clean the gunk out of the reels and blow them out with compressed air (cans like you use to clean a computer keyboard). Do not spray with WD-40. Use reel oil and reel grease, and use very sparingly. Take the spool off and clean the drag system. Add a drop of oil and tighten drag down firmly and release. If you aren't very mechanical just take your reels in to get cleaned.

Next week I will discuss line considerations and some tips for spooling your reels for the upcoming season. Come on open water, I am so ready for you!

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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