By Bill Cooper
Missouri’s catch and keep trout season begins in the state’s four trout parks Monday, March 1. Thousands of anxious anglers will congregate in the parks to celebrate what many call their beginning of spring. Following are some tips to help you get ready for the season and enjoy your first day of trout fishing.
1. Check your waders. Waders don’t last forever, as every experienced fisherman knows. It is, however, particularly frustrating to wade into a cold water spring branch on the opening day of trout season only to discover that your waders leak. Wet is one thing. Cold is another. But wet and cold together is quite a different matter. It can quickly make for miserable conditions, which can ruin a long-awaited-for opening day trout fishing trip. In the worst case scenario, anglers who procrastinated to long after getting wet could face hypothermia and frost bite problems.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold, especially when it comes to having warm, comfortable, dry waders, while fishing cold water and possibly cold weather.
Waders will most often begin to leak first around the foot area. Stocking foot waders are often stretched at the seams while being pulled on and off. These seams will eventually begin to leak. Often leaks first show up as tiny spots, which in some cases can be tolerated until returning home from a trip. On the other hand, leaks of any size can quickly make you uncomfortable, or miserable enough that you have to scrap the trip.
A quick way to test your waders prior to opening day is to put them on and step into abut of water. That allows you to do a quick check of the lower reaches of the waders. If your situation allows wade into a pond or small lake to check the waders to waist level for leaks. Trout fishermen often find themselves in waist deep water. Remaining dry becomes even more important when wading in deeper water.
Should you discover a leak in your waders, several commercial applications are available to patch the waders. In the case of seams, spray formulas are available which will seal seams. In case of a small tear in fabric, gluing small patch of waterproof material both inside and outside the waders often forms a better seal.
2.Check rods and reels. There is little more frustrating on opening day of trout season than to have your rod and reel malfunction. Most problems can be avoided by simply testing your equipment before the trip. Do so at least a week ahead of opening day. A rod or reel that needs to be replaced will require time to do so. Cleaning a reel thoroughly with warm water and adding a few drops of oil after drying the parts is great insurance towards having a functioning reel come opening day. Check rods for nicks and scratches. Hooking a trophy trout on opening day and having your rod snap in your hands is not ideal. After checking rods, replace any that may have suspect nicks in them. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3. Replace lines. Line failure is one of the most common problems I see on opening day of trout season every year. Line which has remained tightly coiled on a reel sitting the closet for months will have lots of memory. The tight coils will not be flexible enough to uncurl evenly when making those first few casts ion the new season. Common results are broken or tangled lines. And no one wants to spend the first several minutes of opening day having to deal with line issues. Right weight lines used for trout fishing are relatively inexpensive and should be replaced on a regular basis. Spraying lines with commercial applications to keep them supple is good insurance against problems as well.
4. Buy license and tags ahead of time. Trout parks are busy places. Purchasing license and daily trout tags prior to the season will save you and concessionaires precious time on opening morning. Check with the park you intend to fish on opening day well ahead of time to determine when trout tags will be offered for sale. By purchasing the necessary permits ahead of time, you will avoid crowds and help reduce congestion in parks stores and parking lots as well. Every little bit of pre-opening day preparation will help opening day run smoother for all concerned.
5. Invite a friend. Remember the 3Rs, recruit, retain, re-activate. There is a nationwide push to bring more people into outdoor recreation activities, particularly hunting and fishing. Hunters and angler shave been the primary force behind our world class conservation efforts through their continued support of taxes on sporting goods products. Billions of generated dollars over the last 90 years have provided lands and waters for every citizen to enjoy. Sportsmen have borne the brunt of the cost. Proudly Missouri has a one-eighth of one percent sales tax for conservation, which every citizen contributes to. While Missouri holds its on with hunter and fishermen numbers, many states have fallen far behind and are losing programs due to lack of participants and failing funding. Invite a friend to join you on opening day of trout season and keep our great outdoor traditions alive and well in Missouri.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Bill Cooper is an award-winning outdoor writer and member of the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and lives in rural St. James. He is host of “Outside Again Adventures TV-Online” and “Wild at Heart” on ESPN 107.3FM in Rolla. You can follow Cooper at www.facebook.com/OutsideAlways, www.aoutdoorstv.com and www.espn1073.com.