Gearing up for Spring

Spring is right around the corner, likely earlier than usual here in south east Manitoba if the last few weeks are any indication. That means a couple things for me; that I am starting to get stir crazy and sick of the cold, and that I kill time by prepping all my fishing gear.

Which there is a lot of

I am somewhat obsessive about organizing my gear, not in the sense that I need it to be in any particular order, but in the sense that I absolutely love sorting through everything, arranging it how I think it will work best on the water, and then rearranging it all again to fit some new lure. Nearly every time I buy some new tackle, I am tempted to open up all my bags and containers and rearrange everything again, taking things out, putting others in, figuring out what I think I will need for spring and how likely I am to use it, adding parts for new rigs that I’ve learned over the winter, and etc.

Not good enough!

Like most years, I have a couple specific goals going into fishing season. Last year one was to catch a master angler sized catfish on my kayak (succeeded!), and this spring my big goal is a master angler Northern Pike on my kayak. It should be an easy goal, considering the huge abundance of big pike that we have, and yet even though I’ve caught many of various sizes, somehow I have never specifically targeted them before.

The odd one by accident is always fun

With that in mind, setting up for this spring has been fun. My philosophy going onto the water this year is going to be “big lures for big fish”, and I’ve begun to stock my tackle bag accordingly. Much to my wife’s everlasting disappointment, I’ve been browsing Amazon and have found a number of 6 inch or longer crankbaits. I’ve also gone through old tackle boxes and things I had in storage and found some old beat up spoons and spinner baits which are 8 inches or so and really cool. The spoons in particular have bite marks and are missing paint and have clearly been chomped on a few times, so that’s a great sign.

Battle scars

Last fall, I picked up my first ever baitcaster rod and reel, knowing that I would want to start targeting bigger fish and not having a heavier action setup yet. It worked exceptionally well for catfish, and so I expect it will fare just as well for big pike, and if opportunity presents itself, sturgeon and musky as well. For anyone curious, my heavy setup will consist of an Ugly Stik Elite, medium heavy, fast action, 6’6″ rod. It came as a combo with a Shakespeare reel with a 6:2:1 gear ratio, and I’ve spooled it with 35lb Berkeley Fireline tracer style braid, which alternates between light and dark green color every 2.5 feet. I have really enjoyed this line so far, and the tracer aspect of it helps me to keep track of how much line I am letting out or reeling in.

Ready to rock

Since I’ve started kayak fishing, I have not used any sort of leashes or ties to keep my gear in place, and I’ve been lucky to never lose anything. This year, I figured I shouldn’t push my luck any further, and so I’ve purchased a paddle leash and a few generic leashes for things like rods and pliers. I plan on taking more people with me who are new to kayaks, so it’s better safe than sorry.

Speaking of the kayak, some of the final preparations I’ve been making have been to make or acquire some convenience items. I’ve attached a tape measure to my paddle, for one. This will make it much easier to record any catches I make, and help me to comply with the new Travel Manitoba regulations regarding master anglers, which state that all submissions must include a picture of the fish against a tape measure or bump board. Since my paddle is always at hand, it will be very easy to simply lay the fish on the paddle for these sorts of pictures.


One of the new conveniences that I’m particularly excited about is a little kayak cart that I bought. This is not much more than just a small frame with 2 wheels, it is designed to rest one end of the kayak on to make portaging and transporting easier. It is light and fairly compact, I can simply flip it up and strap it to the back end of my kayak when I’m on the water, and it should make any lengthy portages much less difficult.

Can’t wait to try this puppy out

Last but not least, I’ve taken a rather strong liking toΒ maps, and have amassed a respectable collection so far. There are some great resources online for purchasing both angling maps (which show a specific lake and rough depth measurements for it) and for topographical maps (which show a large area with height measurements and terrain features). In addition to my GPS, I typically take one of these topographical maps with me wherever I go, and I have all the portages, campsites, and any significant landmarks jotted down on them. It’s always good to have a back up if the GPS runs out of battery power!

All in all, I feel that I’m very well set up for the coming spring, and am getting incredibly impatient for the ice to thaw. The minute there is open water, I’ll be out there. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll go rearrange my tackle again, I think I can fit in an extra spoon this time…



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