Outdoors

Photo contributed

A 17-inch brown caught by this author on last year’s “first cast of spring.”

Just a few days ago, the temperature dipped into single digits with a biting wind. Strong gusts have been stinging any skin not completely covered by hats, or gloves all week. Our ever-present face coverings finally came in handy for something other than COVID protection.

Such was the beginning of March, “roaring in like a lion” with cold and wind. But let’s not forget, along with March appearing on the calendar comes hope for spring. In less than a month on April 1st, the ritual of the “first cast” of trout season officially arrives.

So, with wild and wooly days mixed in with pleasant ones that promise of spring, it’s a good time to do an equipment check so we are ready to fish for trout on opening day.

You might do a quickly assess the overall condition of rods and reels. Does your favorite trout rod have any loose or missing guides or guide inserts? When was the last time you put lube in the gears of your ultralight reel? Is it in good shape, revolving and retrieving smoothly? If not, it may be time to clean, repair or replace it.

One no brainer is to not merely check, but change your line every year.

Even inexpensive rods and reels cost several times more than the line we spool on and thread through them. Where modest inexpensive rod/reel combos can cost as little as $30-$40, the line you spool on your reel can cost under $10.

Let’s face it, line is cheap and failing to replace it can cause all sorts of problems. Line stored on reels tends to retain memory causing it to remain permanently twisted. It fouls, casts poorly, and loses its potential strength. It may also be damaged from exposure to the sun or hot, dry storage, or just age leading it to lose its ability to remain limp and pliable.

Monofilament line is particularly cheap and works well for most applications. There’s little excuse not to change it annually. If there’s less tangling, it will cast better, lay better, and overall perform the way you want it to sparing you streamside frustration.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using versatile monofilament for trout fishing, you may want to consider less visible alternatives like fluorocarbon or a hybrid of fluorocarbon coated monofilament line like “P Line” especially when fishing in clear waters. It costs a little more but can make a difference when “hunting” wary trout.

A friend of mine switched to straight fluorocarbon line when trolling wobbler worms for trout and increased his catch significantly.

For fly fishermen, at the very least, check your fly line for abrasions and other damage. Cleaning it will improve its performance. Unlike monofilament, fly line is expensive but when protected can last for years.

Fly lines collect dirt, algae, and salt. A clean line floats higher, casts farther, mends more easily, and will last longer since things like dirt and salt are abrasive. They should be cleaned regularly with warm water and a mild soap. Wipe the line with a soft cloth. A simple alternative to physically washing your line with soap and water is to use a commercially available product. Cortland sells a Fly Line Cleaner Pad that not only cleans the line but protects it.

It was once popular to clean and coat fly lines with automotive products like Armor All or other cleaner/protectors, but fly line manufacturers say harsh soaps and such chemicals can dry and crack fly line.

At the end of the fishing season clean fly lines and wind them back onto their original line spools or store them in loose coils away from heat and direct sunlight.

Knotted or damaged leaders should be replaced so they are ready to lay down neatly to offer a natural presentation.

So once your equipment is ready, plan a strategy for your favorite streams that have produced for you in the past and remember those holdover and native trout can be wary.

If you are new to the sport or to the area, find deeper pools and holes and consider the ”tried and true” method of dunking a worm in front of a sluggish trout in the cold water. It likely won’t pass up the easy offering of protein, especially if your fluorocarbon line or leader lets it flow, naturally bouncing right past it dangling from an invisible tether.

Early season trout fishing can be hit or miss depending on how stream temperature and flow has been affected by snow melt and/or rain.

If streams are fishable, consider that trout in them may be somewhat sluggish making accurate presentations all the more important. Here’s where you will appreciate the small investment in money and time in spooling good, fresh line on your favorite trout reel.

That being said, when fishing for stocked trout, try your favorite spinners and spoons. Roostertails, Meppes, Blue Fox, Phoebes, or other local favorites retrieved in the vicinity of hungry stockies are likely to produce nicely. This is the time repeated, accurate casting and predictable, steady retrieves will be greatly enhanced by your pre-season attention to trout fishing gear.

So, we’ll put up with the last throws of winter looking forward to the upcoming first ritual of spring; the first cast…!

Happy Hunting, Fishing, and Trapping until next time.

News and Notes

Fur Buyer will be at Shooters Sports on Saturday, March 13: The next date the fur buyer will be at Shooters Sports in Valatie is Saturday, March 13 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Last Chance to Weigh in on Circle Hook Regulation is Monday, March 8: If you want to register an opinion on the proposed inline circle hook requirement, you only have until March 8th to comment. Personally, I think offset, not inline circle hooks are a good compromise.

The inline circle hook can be tough to set whereas offset “J” hooks result in easier hookups but are said to lead to increased mortality. The offset circle hook is the perfect compromise. Let them know your opinion on the topic.

Comments can be sent via email to: fw.marine@dec.ny.gov or

By mail to:

Division of Marine Resources, 205 N. Belle Mead Rd. Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733. After reviewing public comments, DEC will be adopting and publishing a final regulation.

Remember to report poaching violations by calling 1-844-DEC-ECOS.

You can share any comments with our sports desk at sports@registerstar.com

*If you have a fishing or hunting report, photo, or event you would like to be considered for publication, send it to: huntfishreport@gmail.com

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