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The days are getting longer, spring has officially arrived, trees are beginning to bud, the ice has finally melted and after taking the winter off, I find fishing is back in the forefront of my thoughts. What a terrific place we live. We have so many possibilities for fishing, either right here in Evanston or a short drive away – Lakes Michigan and Geneva and the Cook County Forest Preserve lakes; the Illinois, Kankakee and Mississippi rivers; the Skokie Lagoons; and our kids’ local favorite, Lovelace Park.

Most of these outstanding places to go fishing are open now, and reports have it that numbers of really nice fish are already being caught. Until Lovelace Park opens for kids’ fishing next month, eager fishermen can try one of the alternatives. As the year goes along, I will be keeping readers updated on what is happening at these great fishing spots.

But before heading out, fishermen need to do a few things to ensure a good time is had by all. I talked about doing most of these tasks last fall, but l, like many other fishermen, didn’t get them all done. The first thing to do is put fresh fishing line on the reels. Pull off some of the line – half to 2/3 of the spool will be enough – and then tie on fresh line and spool up.

Never go out with old fishing line, no matter how good it looks. It has been sitting dried and tightly spooled for the last four to five months; don’t take the chance of losing that first fish because the old line broke on the first good strike.

If the drag on the reel was loosened for the winter, now is a good time to reset it. Then get out that tackle box and take out the stuff that was not used at all last year. It won’t be used this year, either. Besides, clearing it out will make room for all the new stuff – Christmas presents and equipment bought over the winter, when there was nothing else to do and the stores had all those sales on the newest baits for catching fish(erman).

Get the gear ready and get out there. The fish are calling. Take the kids fishing early and often. Until next time, keep a tight line.

— Dick, hookedonfishing@comcast.net.