Approximately 300,000 anglers will swarm the lowland lakes of Western Washington for "opening day" on April 30th, the largest attendance of any opening day here in Washington.
Hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout ranging from pan-fryer sized eight to twelve inchers to the coveted and beefy triploids are pumped into over a hundred lakes west of the mountains. This bounty of trout is opportunity galore for both young and old alike!
After a long and brutal winter here in Washington it's time to dust off the ol' fishing gear and pull the lake boat out of storage for the big fiesta. Opening day is a little over two weeks away and there's no better time than the present to start getting things in order.
Get started early with this opening day check list:
-Purchase a new fishing license from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Last years fishing license expired on March 31st. Kids under 14 fish for free and kids over 15 need to purchase a license for $8.25. Click HERE for more information regarding fishing license requirements for opening day.
-Check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Catchable Trout Plant Report to see how many trout were planted in your local lake.
-If you forget to add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline in your small outboard tank before it was put in storage last fall it's more than likely bad and will need to be disposed of at an approved facility. The ethanol contained in todays fuel blends can cause phase separation when it sits for more than a couple months. This occurs when the ethanol in blended fuel absorbs water and seperates, dropping to the bottom of the tank where the fuel pick up line is located. Fuel that has been stabilized should be good to go.
-Place "rabbit ears" that are connected to a garden hose over the water intake vents on the lower unit of the outboard to test the motor. A large 60 gallon garbage can filled with water will also work. After the motor warms up shift the engine into forward and reverse several times to ensure that the shifting cables are working. Also check that the tell tale is spraying a steady stream of water. If there is no water coming from the tell tale port on the side of the engine push a small piece of wire into the end of it to break loose any build up that may have occurred over the winter. If water still isn't present the water impeller could be damaged and it should be taken to a service shop immediately for repair.
-Unhook the batteries in the boat and place them on a charger so that they are at full charge when it's time to hit the water on the opener. It's especially important to unhook the batteries if they are attached to an electric trolling motor before you begin charging, as damage can occur to the motor.
-Check the propeller on the electric trolling motor to make sure no fishing line is wrapped around the hub. If fishing line is present remove the propellor and cut it away.
-Check all the life jackets to make sure the squirrels haven't used them for a nest over the winter or even worse, a bunch of hornets haven't taken up shop in the life jackets. Clean them and make sure they all still fit the individuals that will be wearing them. In Washington kids under 12 years of age need to wear a life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet.
-Plug the trailer lights into the tow vehicle and test them to make sure they are working properly.
-Check the trailer winch assembly, the winch cable, and the stern tie-downs for wear and tear. Spray the trailer winch gears with WD-40 or teflon spray.
-Inspect the oars, oar stops, and oar locks for damage and replace if needed.
-Check the boat plug for damage and purchase a spare if you don't already have one.
-Grease the trailer bearings and check the brakes on the trailer if it has them.
-Take a quick look in the tackle box for rusty hooks that will be used on the opener. Replace any rusty hooks on trolling lures and either sharpen bait hooks or purchase new ones.
-Replace old fishing line with fresh new line. Eight to ten pound test main line is great for opening day trout.
-Make sure the bail mechanisms and bail releases work on all the fishing reels and that the fishing rods are all in good working condition.
-Get the kids out for some casting practice prior to opening day. Heck, you might even need some casting practice too. It's a fun way to spend the afternoon with the kids.
-Take a couple of practice runs backing the boat into the driveway or even better, at the boat launch you'll be using. You don't want to be "that guy" that takes an hour to launch the boat on opening morning.
I'll never forget some of the great memories I have of fishing on opening day with my family in Kitsap County. Those great memories definitely helped to get me hooked on fishing and the outdoors at a very early age. It's a great way to get kids, friends, and family outdoors to experience one of our countries great pastimes…Fishing!
The Outdoor Line
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