Welcome to Week CII of 'Fishing Parkland Shorelines'. Like most of us I am a novice fisherman, loving to fish, but far from an expert. In the following weeks I'll attempt to give those anglers who love to fish but just don't have access to a boat, a look at some of the options in the Yorkton area where you can fish from shore, and hopefully catch some fish.
Ah, 'tis the last day of April, and that only means one thing if you are a fisherman, a new season is only days away, at least in Saskatchewan.
So that means it's time to get ready to hit the water.
Admittedly, locally that may be a bit of a challenge when the season opens in the Southern Zone Monday (May 5), since open water is going to be a bit hard to find. It has not been a warm, or early spring to facilitate lakes clearing quickly.
To have the season open on a Monday is a bit unusual. It is usually left to a weekend to let people get out more easily opening day.
Of course I am not sure why the 'powers that be' don't simplify the opening day date. It would seem logical it be May 1, four days is not going to make that big a difference, at least no greater difference in things than the temperatures of the days leading up to May already make. As an alternative the first Saturday of May would be easily remembered as well.
For those traveling, the Central Zone opens May 15, and the Northern Zone May 25.
With the season now close it's time to get ready.
The first step is to grab a copy of the 2014 season guidelines, which can be found online at www.environment.gov.sk.ca and follow the links.
It is important to give the guide a good look through each spring. While generally regulations stay pretty constant, there are tweaks to limits on some lakes every year and others will see catch and release designations changed also to reflect fish levels in a given water.
It's important as well to remember to buy your license. This is now much more critical than in the past. Most small resorts and service stations no longer offer license sales after the move to online sales in Saskatchewan last year.
The service is a nice fit for some, and a total inconvenience for others. You need a computer/printer and credit card to do it from home, a triumvirate of things many will not have. We often think of anything offered online as the height of convenience, but that is not the case for all.
And since most retailers have given up on a system they saw as cumbersome, costly and not paying them enough for their efforts, you best get the license well in advance to heading to water near some small town where you may no longer find a license vendor.
Next pull out the gear.
If you did not do a post-season breakdown of your reels to add some fresh grease for winter storage, you should do that before hitting the water.
Most 'guidebooks' will suggest putting on fresh line at this time too. I am a bit frugal on that account, so replace line only after assessing the current line and where I plan to fish.
I use 'Fireline' almost exclusively now, and it will get a frayed look when it has been overly used. This look will mean a line change.
I would also opt for a change before a new season if I am headed to big fish waters opening day.
Theodore Dam, Canora Dam and similar local spots aren't noted as the home to monsters, so you can get away with old line a bit longer.
If you are opting to fish the same line as last season, pull off 20-feet or so. It tends to be the most stressed, a fish fights harder as it nears shore. Cutting off the length of line will still leave you lots on the spool, and gives you a fresh tie at the leader too.
And remember, you will have a second rod and reel with you anyway if something goes wrong. I am an adamant believer in having a back-up outfit, since rods do snap, reel gears strip and lines knot beyond recovery. It is better to fish with a back-up since you're at the water, and deal with the equipment failure later.
Next, dig into the tackle box.
I tend to buy my 'go-to' hooks two at a time, again back-ups matter.
The same with pickerel jigs, weights, and leaders.
Still, come spring I'll be short a few things. Make a list and restock before opening day.
It's also a good time to straighten out the gear. Get the Len Thompson lures separated by colour and size, as an example. It makes finding what you want easier, and also makes cataloguing what gear you are short much simpler too.
Next go through the gear a fisherman needs, but that are not hooks.
If you have a fillet knife dedicated to the tackle box, give it a sharp new edge.
Check your pliers. They may have a bit of winter rust. Mineral oil rubbed on them will do wonders.
Make sure you have a small first aid kit, band-aids, gauze, some super glue (it can seal a small cut as easy as anything you can carry).
Remember last season when you used your emergency $2 rain poncho. Get a new one and add that to the tackle box.
A set of small screwdrivers, fingernail clippers, an exacto-knife, a cigarette lighter, some plastic bags, are also items which you can buy cheap, toss in the tackle box and I guarantee find an 'at-the-lake' use for over the course of the season. It is often having the right little tool on-hand that can save a trip from being a disappointment, the ability to tighten a reel screw, stay dry through a short shower, or have a bag to put the fillets in for the trip home.
With a refresher course in regulations from reading the guide, license safely stored in a waterproof baggie and in the tackle box (you will always have your tackle box on a fishing trip even if you forget your wallet), and a replenished gear supply, you are ready for the season.
May the pike be monster and ferocious, the carp fat and ornery, the walleye and perch plentiful and tasty, and the weather fantastic.
Let the season begin.