By Chase Brown
Dust off your tackle box and take the tags off that brand-new fishing pole you got during the holidays because warmer weather is on the horizon and with it comes the early spring fishing season!
Here’s what you need to know on what to do before your first fishing trip this year, as well as tips and information on the fish you can expect to catch. If you have any specific questions about fishing in the area or fishing in general, please do not hesitate to reach out to our FCPA Fishing Coordinator Dan Grulke at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to go online and check out some of the fishing classes we will be offering this year at some of your favorite local parks!
Maintaining your equipment is incredibly important when it comes to fishing, and it can save you a lot of money if done properly and in a timely manner.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for the upcoming fishing season.
- Gather all your gear together including all rods, reels, tackle boxes, nets and any miscellaneous lures you may have lying around.
- Grab your rods and make sure each eye on each rod is properly secured and lines up properly.
- Take your fishing reels and ensure that each one is cranking smoothly and that you have taken off any fishing line from last year. If your fishing reel is tough to crank and feels sort of locked up, then you may have to spray some lubricant inside the grooves to eliminate some of the rust or any gunk that may have built up inside over time. Be sure to change out your line before your first fishing trip this year if it has been on your reel for over a few months, as fishing line tends to lose its strength and become brittle after it sits on the reel for a while.
- Make sure that you check for any bait or food in your tackle box that may have been left in it over the winter. For parents, I recommend you check your child’s tackle box for leftover food or bait every time they come home from fishing. I cannot tell you how many times I have found month-old hot dogs and bread that have led to entire tackle boxes needing to be thrown away.
- Examine all your lures and hooks for signs of rust or wear. Use a sharpening stone on any of them that you think may need to be sharpened. If you find out that a lot of your lures or hooks have started to rust, then you most likely have an issue with water or moisture getting into your tackle box. I would try to locate any holes or breaks in your tackle box, and then think about moving it to a different, dryer location.
- Check your fishing nets for gashes that may have been made from the previous year and examine them for rust if they are made of metal. Depending on what fish you are targeting, you may be able to get by with a few small gashes in your net, but you can make a quick fix with some thick sewing string and a needle, if you think it is necessary.
Now that you have some steps to get yourself prepared for the season, let us talk about some of the fish you may be targeting out there!
Spring is the time of year when largemouth bass begin their spawning rituals and tend to become highly aggressive. It is also a great time of the year for finding a trophy fish, since a lot of the females are pretty fattened up to prepare for spawning. Typically, you can find pairs of fish along grass beds guarding their nests from intruders and attacking anything that gets too close. In my opinion, this makes for an easy and enjoyable day of fishing, since you do not have to put too much effort into choosing the right lure. If it can fit in their mouth and you cast it close to their nesting site, you should have no problem hooking up with a bass this time of year.
Another reason that spring is a favorite time of year among anglers is the migratory species you can find in the Potomac River, such as striped bass and yellow perch. I had an article that previously talked about striped bass and their fall migration up the river , but they will also make a smaller migration down the river in the early springtime. Typically, there are not as many as there are in the fall, but these fish always seem to come back when the weather starts to warm up. The warmer waters also signal the beginning of the yellow perch migration. These fish spawn in rivers and creeks during this time of year, just like the largemouth bass. The yellow perch, not to be confused with the white perch that inhabits this area year-round, has some distinguishable features that separate it from its counterparts, including its color, which is typically greenish yellow with black bands along its sides.
I have my best luck with yellow perch when fishing small soft plastics along areas with lots of rocks. Just like the largemouth bass, these fish are very aggressive during their spawning season and will strike at just about anything that crosses their path.
For those of you looking to experience fishing for the first time or looking to catch anything that will take your bait, panfish is the way to go.
Virginia has numerous species of panfish but the most popular three are bluegill, sunfish and crappie. They can be found in just about any body of water around the area and are a fun and easy species to catch that will be sure to brighten anyone’s fishing day.
All you need for these fish are some fishing line, a hook and bait, such as worms or crickets. Panfish typically travel in schools too, so where you find one you should be able to find a dozen.
Fishing for panfish is perfect for beginners or any angler looking for a relaxing day on the water. Although they are not the biggest fish by any means, they have some beautiful colors and patterns and a decent-sized one will put up a good fight on a lightweight fishing rod.
Good luck to all of you this fishing season, and I hope that this article helps you land that trophy catch this spring!