Pre-Season Planning and Preparation

Imagine this: It’s February. In Ohio, it is bitter cold, the wind is blowing and all of the water in-sight is frozen over.  It’s not the ideal time for a kayak angler.  All fisherman in the state are either ice fishing or wishing they lived in the South as they watch their SEC brethren hauling in wintertime catches. However, this is the time to capitalize for the Northern kayak fisherman. Carefully preparing for the next season can pay dividends if you do it properly.  From the trips to the gear you use, good organization goes a long way.

The first order of business is to organize all of my gear.  From camera mounting to rods and lures.  There is plenty of time to organize it all.

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Remember, if you want to chase various species, it is critical to have the proper gear.  My crappie rods are much different than the king salmon rods.  My walleye rods are also different than my smallmouth rods.  To set yourself up for success, you need to gear yourself up accordingly.  Check out your local forums for detailed information specific to your region.

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The next step is to map out my fishing plan for the year. In my case, I plan out my “big” fishing trips in which I target a specific species in a specific body of water at a certain time of year. I’ve been blessed and fortunate to meet many anglers who have shown me the ropes in their area of expertise. As a multi-species angler I took their tips to heart, and over the last 5 or 6 years, I have kept a log of my successful trips. I ensure that I schedule my fishing around specific circumstances for a wide variety of species. When the conditions are right, you are much more likely to catch a fish of a lifetime. My schedule goes a little like this:

January-February: Gar on the Ohio River.  This requires me to have dry gear, strong fishing rods and even stronger line to pull in these toothy critters.  A good fish finder with down and side-imaging is necessary to succeed as well.

March-April: Walleye on Lake Erie, Saugeye in Local Reservoirs.  This is one of my favorite times of year and buying various brightly-colored lures really makes the tackle box liven-up a bit.  My crappie rigs look much different than my walleye or saugeye lures!

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May: Smallmouth Bass on Lake Erie, Crappie and White Bass in Local Reservoirs.  Taking the trip up to Lake Erie is always tricky and watching the forecast is a must.  You can find yourself in the middle of 4-6 foot waves if you are not careful.  Frequently checking wind patterns and direction is the difference between safety and grave danger.

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June: Largemouth and Smallmouth in Canada.  Heading to Canada is just a blast and I will normally head North to pursue giants north of the border.

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July-August: Smallmouth Fishing on Ohio Rivers, Northern Pike in Canada.  Fishing the small rivers throughout the Buckeye state is where I cut my teeth fishing and I routinely still make trips to these rivers on a weekly basis.  It is where I learned to kayak, fine-tune my skills, and still catch good-sized bass.

September: King Salmon on Lake Michigan.  I have not yet taken this trip, but fully intend to in the fall.  I cannot wait!  It can’t be too much different than trolling for walleye, right?
October: Feed-Bag pre-winter Smallmouth Bass on Ohio Rivers.  October is when my quiet little rivers turn into feed zones featuring wolf-packs of smallmouth bass on the prowl.  I never miss this!

November: Saugeye and Crappie in Local Reservoirs.  The reservoir carnivores follow soon after the smallmouth bass in the river for their winter feeding.

December: Saugeye on Local Reservoirs.  This is when I learn patience.  Fine-tuning jerk baits and letting them idle in the water column for up to a minute is bone chilling in December.  The only thing that warms you up is a smack on your lure from a big, hungry saugeye.
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So, there is a lot of preparation and time that this involves. Gearing up for crappie is much different than Walleye or Gar.  Fishing in the warmth of the summer is completely opposite of fighting through the driving wind and snow of the winter. Each situation calls for drastically different techniques and gear. Watching message boards, finding fishing partners and becoming an expert in your region can be some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences you can have as an angler. To close, it’s never to late to begin preparing. Once you begin, you’ll never look at fishing the same way!

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