by Bob Jensen

About this time in years past, I've done a look back: Kind of a review of things pertaining to fishing that happened in the past fishing season. This year, we're going to take a look forward at the fishing seasons, open water and ice, to come. Here we go!

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This smallmouth bass was caught and released in 2014. He'll be bigger and ready to bite again when we hit the water in 2015.​

Ice-fishing got off to an early start this year, then warmer-than-ordinary weather invaded ice-fishing country, and that slowed things down a bit. With the return of cold weather and solid ice again in most areas, ice anglers are looking forward to getting back out there. In many areas there are some outstanding year classes for walleyes and perch: The numbers of mid-sized walleyes and larger than average perch is very good in a lot of areas.

Keep in mind though, that fish become conditioned to lures and lure presentations. It doesn't hurt to try the baits that have led to success in past years, but if they're not working, it often will help to try something they haven't seen much of. Northland Fishing Tackle has developed a number of ice-fishing baits in new UV colors, and these UV colors truly do help in many situations. It's important to remember that if what you're doing isn't working, try something else.

Equipment is another area of continued improvement. More and more, the fish can't hide from us. About mid-summer this past year I was introduced to Raymarine. I knew that Raymarine was the leader in deep water sonar. Most boats that go out on the ocean and the Great Lakes and places like that insist on Raymarine. When I learned more about their sonar and that it was appropriate for the type of fishing we do here in the Midwest, I had to give it a try. What an eye-opener! These units draw a picture of the underwater world that is as good as it gets. And, although these devices do a lot of different things, they're very easy to use, and for someone like me, easy is a good deal. Anglers will be seeing a lot more Raymarine equipment in stores and in boats in coming years. It's true that we still have to make the fish bite, but if we know that we're putting our bait where the fish are, we're increasing our chances of getting bit.

Outboard motors are improving also. Better fuel economy, more reliability, and less noise can be expected from new motors. But here's something you might not expect: A motor that actually automatically trims itself into the proper trim level. With most outboards, the driver needs to adjust the trim level of the motor manually, and inexperienced drivers often have trouble getting the proper trim. The newly-introduced Evinrude E-TEC G2 trims itself to run at the exact proper trim level. It has several other very unique features, but the automatic trim feature impresses me the most.

In many areas of the Midwest, and in North America in general, fishing continues to get better. The chance to catch a truly big fish is as good as many anglers have experienced in their lifetime. There are some trouble spots, and we need to continue to take care of our fish populations and the quality of our waters, but as anglers, we have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming year.

2014 was an outstanding year for fishing for many of us, and if we allow it, 2015 can be even better. Take advantage of the wonderful equipment and fishing opportunities we have.

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