by Bob Jensen

The ice-fishing season of 2014 is starting to wind down and the open water fishing season of 2014 is getting underway. There is still plenty of ice in many of the ice-fishing locales across the Midwest, but those of us who like to ice-fish know that our time on the ice is getting less and less. Some rain and thunder and warm weather can close ice-fishing down pretty quickly, and it can also get the open water fishing started. The melting snow and ice get the rivers flowing a bit, and that gets the walleyes and northern pike in an eating mode. In some bodies of water it does the same to catfish. Let's talk about some of the things we need to keep in mind for the open water fishing season.

While you're putting your ice-fishing equipment away for the year, move some of it to your open-water fishing stuff. Baits like Puppet-Minnows and Buck-Shot Rattle Spoons are great under the ice, but they'll also work for open-water walleyes in some situations.

New Fishing Season

Check your fishing and boating equipment now so you'll be ready to go fishing as soon as the ice is out​

Check up on new regulations. For several years Minnesota has had a law that you need to pull the drain plug on your boat when you're not on the water. That law will be enforced in Iowa now also. Check where you live and where you'll be traveling about the drain plug law.

In some states you can't transport minnows in lake water, and you've got to drain your livewell before you get on the road. Learn how you can transport minnows, and also determine the best way to get your fish home before you're in those situations.

Make sure your life-jackets are in good condition. I started wearing Cabela's inflatable life-jackets last year and really liked them. They're so comfortable that you don't even know you have it on, and that means you'll wear them more often.

I keep my lifejackets in the boat, so as long as I'm checking the lifejackets I also check the boat trailer. My skills with mechanical things are very limited, so I just make sure the brake lights and turn signals work and that the tires have the right amount of air pressure.

Make sure the boat batteries are charged.

Put new line on your reel or reels. Strip off fifty yards or so and tie new line to the existing line. Rarely do we have more line than that out. Trolling rigs will probably need a longer length of fresh line.

Do a little research on local fisheries. Most of us have small lakes or ponds or rivers nearby that for one reason or another we don't get to very often. This year, when you get maybe just an afternoon free, visit one of these spots. You might find that you have some good fishing opportunities closer than you thought.

Most of all, enjoy your time fishing this year. Sometimes some of us get too intense and put too much of a priority on catching fish. That's fine, but sometimes it's good to just take a minute to enjoy the surroundings. If you do this, you'll enjoy your fishing even more.

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