Preparing for Spring Fishing.

 By Steve Weisman.

It is amazing how fast the seasons come and go! I know that part of the reason has to do with my age, but the fall weather held on so long that it pushed the ice fishing season well into December. Here in northern Iowa, anglers had to head north as far as Red Lake in order to get any ice fishing in by early December. So, it really was a short season!

Now, with Mother Nature loosening her wintery grip, it’s time to think spring and spring fishing! Once again, anglers need to shift gears and go from winter ice fishing to spring open water fishing. For boat owners, boat registrations are on a three-year cycle, and 2022 is the year that boat registrations need to be renewed.

Registration information
All Iowa registrations expire on April 30, 2022. It’s not a big deal, but it needs to be taken care of, and it’s one of those deadlines that can often slip our mind…until we get the boat out of storage to head out on an early spring fishing trip, and there right in plain sight sits the expired registration decal. Iowa residents can obtain registrations and renewals from their County Recorder Office any time after January 1, 2022. A $5 penalty is added to the renewal cost for an expired Iowa registration.

If you happen to be purchasing a different boat, and you are purchasing it from a boat dealer, they will often register your boat for you. If they register your boat for you, they will give you a “registration applied for “card that allows you to use your boat for 35 days without a registration or title. Your registration will be sent to you directly from the County Recorder. If the business that sold your boat to you doesn’t register your boat for you, then you will be responsible for registering it with the County Recorder in the county where you reside.

To register your boat, you will need proof of ownership or a bill of sale, title if applicable and registration. Boats registered in Iowa, must display their current registration decals and the Iowa issued registration numbers provided by the County Recorder. In addition, the operator must carry the registration certificate on board.

Is the boat spring ready?
The first question is this: have you or has your dealer checked your fishing rig over to make sure that it’s ready to go? Although a lot of people handle this, I feel much better knowing that my mechanic has gone through everything.

Here’s a list:
• If you have stored it with the boat cover on, check to see if there have been any critters living under there for the winter? I had a friend a couple of springs ago that had stored his boat covered outside. He took the cover off, and there looking right at him was a raccoon. The smell was incredible and upon inspection, he found that it had ruined all of the cushions and some of the wiring!

• Is the cranking battery and the trolling batteries good? Are they charged, and do they hold a charge?

• How about the lower unit? Is the lower unit oil good? Does it show any sign of leaking?

• How does the prop look?

• How about the motor itself?

• If you have a remote for your trolling motor, is the battery still good?

• If your boat requires a fire extinguisher, does it show that it’s in working order?

• How about the boat trailer? Are lights working? Have the tires and bearings been checked? Nothing worse than having a trailer break down!

• Are all of the life jackets in good shape?

There are so many things to think about when it comes to getting a fishing boat “springerized.” I feel much more confident with my mechanic checking everything out.

Checking out the fishing equipment
Too often we wait until the night before to see if our rods, reels, tackle boxes, etc. are ready to go. If there is anything I am lazy about, it is checking my fishing line. I use spinning reels, and after three to four months of sitting during the winter, the line really becomes coiled, making it difficult for long casts. Plus, if it’s a light monofilament line, it can weaken and break easily.

Are the rods all in good shape? How about the eyelets? Are rod tips in good shape?

Are tackle boxes organized, or have lures and jigs just haphazardly been thrown back in after use? Do you need to replace any of your tackle? Are all of your walleye spinners and snells organized? Are you missing some of your favorite ones?

If so, a great place to do this is at some of the late winter/early spring sport shows. Lots of dealers and manufacturers with the latest and greatest that you just can’t resist!

Make sure that your bad weather clothing is set to go. Nothing worse than putting them on while fishing and finding that there are rips, the zipper doesn’t work or the waterproofing is no good. How about the sunglasses? How about sunscreen?

By being on top of things, you’ll be ready for that first early spring fishing excursion.