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Right now is the time to be getting prepared for early season fishing. It does not appear that the weather is going to be too harsh this winter, so fish spawning will likely be early this year. I would not be surprised to find northern pike already spawning in some river locations and on the lakes in the next few weeks. The remaining spawn will probably be a month earlier than normal. With recent years’ weather patterns, though, it is hard to know for sure what “normal” is any more.

Because fish determine time and date by water temperature and the angle of the sun, the bass spawn will likely start early April rather than May. With the weed beds coming green early, everyone’s favorite panfish will be spawning in May/June this year instead of June/July. That makes now the time to get ready for the early season fishing.

Fresh lines on reels is a start – along with resetting the drag that was backed off in the fall when the reels were put away for the winter. A few drops of oil on the reel’s gears would also be a great idea – 3-in-1 oil or special gear oil, available in all tackle stores.

This is the time to look over the tackle box, too. Clean the rust from the hooks so they get better penetration on those early-season strikes. A supply of smaller plastics and hard baits is necessary. The food supply for fish early in the season is quite small in size and baits should match. Early in the year, until the water warms to above 50 degrees, small minnows are the best live bait. The minnows will work for catching perch, crappies, bluegills and bass equally well.

It is time to get ready for some early season fun – probably only weeks away. Until next time … keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.