Brad Laabs column: Surprise! Could be a good opener after all
Only two weeks until fishing opener!
Conditions are setting up very nicely for this to be a very good opener. We seemed to have turned the corner to some real spring weather. The walleye spawn is over now, and the DNR had met the quota for egg harvest this year several days before the harvest was over.
Nature cooperated this year, when just a few weeks ago it wasn't looking so good for a quality spring. At one time they had as many as 600 females in the holding pens. They were able to strip about 800 females of their eggs, and milk three times as many males to fertilize the female eggs.
This program will help keep our walleye populations stable even with the increased fishing pressure over the last number of years. The stocking programs this provides also keeps lakes with walleye populations for sport fishing that otherwise would not be available because of the lack of natural spawning in those lakes.
If you haven't started to get yourself ready for the open water season yet, now is a good time to start.
Don't assume that because your boat trailer lights were working in the fall when you put the boat away, they will work now. It is not a good deal to wait until the morning you are heading out and find out they aren't working, and scramble and stress to get them working!
The winter gremlins can strike at any time. Make sure your motor starts and you have fresh gas before getting to the landing with the assumption that "it should start."
Batteries can also curse you, so make sure they are charged and in good shape. Trailer bearings and tires should be in good shape, and make sure tires are properly inflated.
Re-spool new line or have the bait shop do it for you. If you use the no stretch lines or "super lines," you are probably okay, but every couple years they should be re-done as well.
Organize your tackle box or trays, and set them up so they are convenient for what you are going to be doing. Power up graphs and try all your switches for pumps and lights to make sure the boat wiring survived possible intrusion by wire eaters (mice in particular) over the winter. Make sure you have your fishing license, and if you have a boat, that your boat license is up to date.
Next week I will talk about some opening day and weekend fishing strategies that may help to increase chances for some early season success. As always, weather is also a key factor. You can do all the right things in all the right places, at all the right times, and nature can still make catching fish a challenge by throwing a cold front in our face at just the right (or wrong!) time.
With the majority of the lakes open by this weekend, next week and through the opening weekend will also be getting prime time for some early season crappie and bluegill action.
Bass will also be extremely active over the next few weeks. Remember, you can target them now for catch and release, but the season for them does not open until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
I am so glad to see the open water!
(Laabs owns Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes)