The open-water fishing season is just around the corner. Water temperatures are slowly climbing into the upper 40s and lower 50s, depending on the size and depth of the particular body of water. This is when the largest amount of spawning activity takes place, with walleyes, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass all beginning their pre-spawn feeding and spawning-bed locating.

This a great time of year for shore anglers to hook up with some large fish as these fish move into the shallows. With this in mind, there are a few things to do to be ready for that big bite.

Now is the time to respool fishing reels. There is only one thing between an angler and that trophy fish … the fishing line.

Plan on replacing at least half of the line on the reel with new line; old line that was on the reel last year will have too much memory (curls) and will have lost some of its tensile (break) strength. Just spool off half to two-thirds of the line from the reel, tie on the new line to the end, and respool with fresh line.

Any local tackle shop will respool the fishing line; the folks at FishTech on Dempster Street in Morton Grove (formally Ed Shirley Sports) are experts at doing this.

The other critical thing to do is to make sure hooks are all sharp and straight. There are more fish lost due to dull hooks than any other single mistake a fisherman makes. Take the time to check all hooks and sharpen them as needed; a small sharpening stone should be part of every tackle box. Use it. If there is visible rust or debris on the hook, sharpen it before using it. It is easier to sharpen hooks at home than while fishing.

Once the reels are set with fresh line and the hooks are sharpened for the day, try catching some of those early season fish. Next time I will go over prime locations for those big ones.

‘Til then, keep a tight line …