Howard Delo

I was glad see Andy Couch’s fishing article in last week’s Frontiersman. His reappearance signifies a return toward a little normalcy in this otherwise unusual spring season. While he didn’t have much news in the way of fish being caught, he did describe conditions on the rivers and lakes at the time. Things have opened up even more now.

Andy knows what’s happening in the Valley fishing-wise and freely shares that information in each of his columns. I read his work every week to learn what’s happening and where, so I, too, can take advantage of various fishing opportunities as they are available.

The king salmon fishing opportunities are still sparse around the Valley. Other than the Eklutna Tailrace hatchery-supported fishery where you can harvest a king, everywhere else is catch-and-release. The Susitna Drainage Unit 2 area is entirely closed to king salmon fishing. While you can have a chance at catching a king locally, for the most part, you’ll have to release it unharmed — no kings on the BBQ yet!

Hopefully, the returning king run strengths will be stronger than predicted and Fish and Game will loosen the harvest restrictions later in the season, but for now, it’s pretty much just catch and release.

I have no problem with folks who enjoy catching and releasing fish, if they do it responsibly. However, I have never had the urge to do so myself. Oh, I’ve released fish I hooked and didn’t want to keep, like a “hairy” pink while fishing for Coho, but I hadn’t targeted the pink to begin with. While I do enjoy the thrill of fighting a fish on hook and line, I fish primarily to catch a fish I can eat. If harvesting isn’t allowed, I usually find something else to do besides fish for salmon.

For several reasons, I haven’t had a chance to do nearly as much lake fishing as I would like recently, but this season will be different, I hope. I need to get my riverboat out and make sure it’s running correctly. It should since I’ve only run it once since it had a major tune-up, and everything was fine.

A couple of years ago, I bought and installed two downriggers on the stern of the boat. I need to work with them more to better refine my understanding of their use and see how well they’ll work while lake fishing. If things really work out, I hope to use them for pike fishing up in Nancy Lake and maybe a lake trout or two in Lake Louise while on a road trip with the RV. Of course, the usual local lakes will be explored again for stocked trout and salmon. Depending on the local waterbody, maybe even a pike could be caught!

While I can dream about getting out on the lakes, I need to get the boat ready by de-winterizing it. My boat has an inboard engine, so getting it ready for the coming season shouldn’t involve a lot of work. Sealing up the sand trap, closing off the heat exchanger ends, disconnecting the battery charge/maintainer, and checking oil levels are about all that is needed to get the engine running. Vacuuming out the cabin and engine compartments finishes the big items.

I also like to give the PFDs a going over to see if any tears exist and make sure the zippers all work properly and that they still fit. We have little dogs and they each have their own PFDs as well. It has been a long winter with lots of good treats enjoyed by everyone!

Next is the trailer. Checking tire pressures, greasing the hubs, checking the lights, checking the condition of the tie-down straps, and spot-checking nut and bolt tightness should do it.

Now that the boat items are squared away, it’s time to check rods and reels and terminal gear. I’ve got a couple of seven-foot ultralight rods, one with a spinning reel and the other set up for a baitcasting reel. A good dusting and wipe down plus checking the condition of the braided line and eyelets, and these should be ready. Digging into the tackle box will reveal what lures need to be added or replaced and which hooks sharpened. A good look at the condition of the landing net mesh will assure no lost fish slipping through the unknown hole.

This time of year is always exciting for those anglers anticipating the coming season. Hopefully, we’ll see you on the water!

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