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This is the time to get those rods and reels ready for the season. Fishing began early this year, catching most people by surprise, well before their gear was ready. So, now, too, is the time to get those fishing rods out and check them over closely.

The eyelets should be checked first for replacement – if any are broken or damaged, these will destroy a line. Speaking of line, a fisherman should replace approximately half of the line on a reel with fresh line for the new year. While winding on new line, one can pay attention to whether the reel feels smooth or could use a little lubrication. A few drops of oil down into the gears will prevent the line from failing on a fishing trip. Taking a few minutes to avoid losing that special fish will be worth it.

The cooler, more seasonable, temperatures have had a noticeable impact on local fishing on the inland waters. After warming the water to near-summer temperatures, they have fallen back quite a bit, and rather quickly, so the fish behavior has taken a major turn.

The Fox Chain of Lakes is still reporting good catches of northern pike and catfish, but everything else has slowed way down. The reports from the Mississippi River Pool 9 near Genoa, Ill., are similar: Northern pike and perch are active, but the bass have gotten a case of lockjaw. Lake Michigan is still pretty cool, so it’s no surprise that guys are catching northern pike in the Chicago harbors. But there have not been any catches or sightings of either largemouth or smallmouth bass because of the water temps.

Reports from across the border were pretty much the same – cooler water, with panfish and bass hard to find and catch. The best reports I received were from Busse Lake, where the bass were still biting, mostly in 3-4 feet of water near downed trees, and from Skokie Lagoons, with the bass being active around the deadfalls and irregular shorelines.

Just a reminder – Evanston’s Lovelace Fishing Program opens for the season in just four weeks. It’s time get ready for that, too. Until next time, keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.