Perfect time to check out the gear and prepare for opening day
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Think back for a bit, until you get to the brief period when the thermometer hovered around the 60-degree mark. We were treated to days when the squirrels were trying to dig some acorns out of the frozen ground. Many serious anglers were still venturing onto the ice while others were slipping boats into the water downstream of dams. Many years ago I could have been found urging my small boat through skim ice in order to start the spring fishing season. Others were starting to rake their yards and thinking about their flower gardens. Then the reality of early April in Wisconsin’s Northwoods set in and we have snow on the ground again!
Not quite ready to actually try fishing yet my thoughts took me to a careful analysis of each of my rods and reels to insure that they are ready to search for walleyes and crappies. Last fall several youngsters spent several days in my boat. I knew that several of the rods had suffered a bit. They had lost about three inches off the tip of the rods.
Fishing rods have changed drastically over the past ten years. They are now constructed for specific types of fishing. Anglers are looking for a rod that will give them the maximum feel even from relatively small fish. Some rods are manufactured near here in Park Falls, by the St. Croix Rod Company and are made specifically for the species the angler is fishing for. The St. Croix Rod Company is the largest producer of quality graphite fishing rods.
The ultra-light rods deliver impressive strength and responsiveness. I use rods from the ultra-light category for trout, small mouth bass and crappie fishing. They can also be used for blue gill fishing.
For walleye fishing I use rods that are super light and react to anything that touches the line on a retrieve. I use open-faced spinning reels to complete this combination.
It is no secret that most of my fishing time is spent fishing for muskies. Perhaps the biggest improvement in musky rods is their length. Not very many years ago rods that were designed for musky fishing were quite short. At that time they were between six and seven feet long. Today serious musky anglers are using rods between seven and nine feet in length. Many years ago when my Dad began musky fishing he was using a four-foot, solid glass musky rod.
The longer rods enable the angler to do a much more effective figure eight at boat-side than a short rod.
As much as I hate to mention the next item it is a topic that is on the minds of many deer hunters. In March of 2016 CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) was detected in a free ranging reindeer in south Norway. This is the first detection of CWD in Europe and the first detection of natural infection in reindeer worldwide. CWD in North America occurs in mule deer, white tailed deer, elk and moose. It has been documented in captive and free ranging deer in 24 states and two Canadian Provinces. As many are aware the deer hunting regulations in our county have been altered because of the identification of a deer infected with CWD near Three Lakes in Oneida County.
The Department of Natural Resources annual spring hearing will be held Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at James Williams Middle School on Acacia Lane in Rhinelander. All those interested in hunting and fishing are encouraged to attend.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.