Chill Fishing Report

Cody Hill

It seems like we are having déjà vu like the Groundhog’s Day movie, and it keeps thinking it is winter.  As I write this, I’m looking at the forecast and the low temperature on the 29 of April is forecasted to be 39 degrees.  People might have to think of fighting ice on opening weekend on some of our lakes and the possibility that some accesses might not be fixed or repaired from winter weather in time for the opener.

Even though I said I wasn’t going to do it I did get out the prior weekend tullibee fishing and I had one of the best days I have ever had tullibee fishing.  I ended up with three fish that were the state record length or longer with my biggest one being one inch longer than Austin’s state record fish that was caught in our area.  

Even though I am very tempted to get out this upcoming weekend the boat will be coming home next week, and I have a trip the same weekend planned to do my new engine break in period.  My intentions are to travel south a few hours to some lakes that have been open for two weeks already and test out my new Lund boat and make sure it is ready for opener and that everything was wired properly.  I have a lot of electronics going into the boat and it’s a peace of mind taking steps now to make opener easier on me and everyone in line at the boat ramp behind me.

Safety is something I think must be at the front of everyone’s mind and with water temps on opener going to be extremely cold an accidental trip over the side of the boat can turn bad in a heartbeat.  If you haven’t done so yet take time and inspect all your life jackets and if you have kids make sure they still fit from last year.  Those that use the automatic inflate life jackets please remember if they are not being worn, they do not count as a life preserver in your boat.  Friends that were checked on Rainy River have been warned and heard a few were ticketed by DNR officials for them not being worn.  

Now is also a good time to inspect all your batteries and if you have the option of viewing your water level inside of the battery inspect and top off with distilled water if needed.  Clean terminals and charge the batteries for a few hours to make sure a battery hasn’t gone bad over the winter.  When you reinstall your batteries in the boat make sure you secure the battery down to prevent it from moving when in transport or when hitting waves.  Two years ago, I was switching spots on the lake, and I had no power when I got to my second spot and one of the trolling motor batteries had slid backwards breaking the wire connecting the two batteries together.  Thankfully it was a simple fix, but it was a good reminder to secure down the batteries.

The last thing I do before going fishing for the first time is I find a lake that opens earlier than others and I back my boat into the water and let my motor run.  I pick the least popular lake in our area to not bother other boaters.  I do not put my plug in the boat and I back in enough that my lower unit is able to be submerged and I try starting my motor all while connected to my trailer.  While it is running, I check my live well pumps and my aerator to make sure a pump didn’t go bad during the winter.  Since I didn’t put my plug in the boat, I know I have water in the bottom of the boat I turn on my bilge pump and verify that pump is working properly.  I used to just listen for the humming sound of the pump running but one year while fishing a tournament I had water leaking into my boat and when I turned on the bilge nothing happened.  The hose had broken on the bilge, so the pump wasn’t connected to the discharge hose anymore.  

After everything has been checked and the motor has been warmed up, I engage it into forward and reverse to make sure it runs smoothly.

Taking a few extra steps now can make your first trip of the year go a lot smoothly and safer for everyone involved.