Preparing for the Spring Run

By Dale Helgeson - March 1, 2007
As you sit in your comfortable heated ice shack slamming the bluegills and crappies through the ice, don't forget that in a month or two it will be time to hit the water. It takes a lot of preparation to get ready again for the open water, specifically the walleye run on the rivers.

Ice fishing is a lot of fun and puts fish in my freezer every year. There isn't much that is more anticipated annually than the river walleye runs. It is time to start organizing your equipment and doing any maintenance that will be necessary to have everything working in top form for the run.

Start with you fishing rods and reels. Check your rods for any broken eyes or damaged eyes or reel seats. Replace or fix any damaged parts. Then take you reels clean and lube them and make sure they are working properly including the drag systems and back reeling for the big ones that can be caught in the spring. The change the lines this is very important. You don't want to use last year's line because of possible damage and wear on it. In the spring I primarily vertical jig so I prefer to use now stretch, high visibility line with a thin diameter like PowerPro in a 2-6 pound test. It has no stretch and is extremely sensitive, with a small diameter to cut the water. This will help you stay vertical more easily. I will also use other lines such as Berkley Vanish but prefer the Hi-Vis lines.

Now that your rods and reels are ready for use, time to start organizing the tackle box. Jigs are one of the primary weapons for spring fishing, so stock up on lots of them because you will be guaranteed to lose some in the river systems. I prefer to use Fin-Tech tackles Knuckleball jigs. They are a standup jig that is setup to harness a minnow farther up on the hook to help with the short biters. There new Day-Brite jigs are a great change from traditional painted jigs as they are plated in metallic colors. They have proven to increase success in testing over painted jigs especially under sunny conditions and the finish holds up much better. If you are fishing heavy current use the Zone-R knuckleball jig as it has extra weight and narrower profile to cut the water better. Don't forget to take plenty of plastics along with you as well. Ringworms are my favorite go to plastic. I use the B-Fish-N Tackle ringworms and super-doos as they have held up best for me and always produce fish.

Other tackle needed of course are crank baits. I like to run a dead stick with either a three way rig with a hook and minnow, Phelps floater with a minnow or a crank bait. My crank baits of preference are Dave's Lures Kaboom Shiner. I am anxious to try the new Sparx series from Dave's this spring though. Make sure all the hooks are sharp and either sharpen them or replace any faulty hooks. Use a quality hook like Daiichi's Bleeding Bait hooks. I like to replace the front treble hook with a Bleeding Bait hook for not only the hook quality but the added red color to aid in triggering bites.

Make sure to have plenty of rigs pre-setup for break-offs. It will save a lot of time on the water.

Next is boat maintenance. If you are not comfortable working on your boat take it to a reputable dealer. I use Action Marine to go over my boat once I am finished as they will sometimes find something I didn't. Start by cleaning your boat if you didn't when you put it away. Check the motor for any damage and have repaired or replaced and broken or worn parts. Charge all the batteries every month to make sure they will hold a charge. Made sure all the electronics are working as well as any electric motors including the trolling motor, bilge, and aerator pumps. Check your seats and make sure they are working properly. See if your life jackets and safety equipment have wear and damage including your fire extinguisher.

Once the general maintenance is complete go through a final run through the week before you leave and double check that everything works and runs properly including running your motor.

Remember be prepared for the worst and it will make you experiences much easier and safer on the river this spring.

Tight Lines and Take a Kid Fishing!

Author Dale Helgeson
Dale Helgeson
Dale Helgeson is owner and operator of The Outdoor Experience Guide Service focusing on lakes in southeastern Wisconsin. Dale is a professional fisherman fishings the MWC walleye fishing circuits as well as writing articles for Lake-Link and Southeast Wisconsin Outdoor Guide among others. Dale is sponsored by these fine sponsors: Geneva Cabinet Company, Action Marine, DR Plastics, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Black Mountain Socks, RAM Mounts, Frabill, Pflueger Rods and Reels, Dave’s Kaboom Lures, Lake-Link.com, Kick’n Walleye Scents, Minn Kota, Strikemaster Augers, Mapping Specialists, Vexilar, Guest Pro Chargers, PowerPro Lines, KINeSYS Sunscreen, NPAA 872. His Pro Staffs include: Daiichi Hooks, XTools, FinTech Tackle Company, Off Shore Tackle, Navionics, Jammin Jigs/Bad Dog Lures