open water season prep

Don’t let preparing for the fishing season bog you down. Follow our checklist and you’ll be ready to go fishing in short order.


  • Renew your fishing license(s)
  • Read the latest fishing regulations, noting changes to season dates, slot limits, fish sanctuaries and so on
  • Renew boat and trailer insurance
  • Attain any special fishing permits required for specific zones
  • Get written or verbal “sign off” for private property access to fishing spots, if applicable


  • Clean and organize tackle bags and trays
  • If hard-baits get tangled during storage, buy hook bonnets
  • Label trays (if you haven’t already)
  • Replace lost lures
  • Sort soft-baits and restock low items
  • Treat yourself to some new lures (you deserve it) and tackle trays to keep them organized
  • Replenish your jig supply
  • Stock-up on snaps, swivels, spare hooks, sinkers, split rings and other terminal tackle
  • Check mono and fluorocarbon leader spools, buying more if needed
  • Cut off old knots from lures
  • Sharpen hooks
  • Replace rusty hooks and split rings with new ones
  • Tip: As a budgeting measure, consider making a list of seasonal baits and staggering purchases of what you need a few weeks before

Rods & Reels

  • Inspect guides, the reel seat assembly and other rod components for damage, repairing if needed
  • Clean dirty rod handles with a mild soap solution
  • Perform reel maintenance, cleaning and lubricating as per the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • Spool reels with fresh monofilament and fluorocarbon line
  • Check the capacity and condition of braid on reels, replacing if needed
  • Remove last season’s leaders from braided line
  • Buy new rods and reels to be ready for the season
  • Buy extra rod and lure wraps
  • Buy a rod tip repair kit if you don’t own one already

Tools & Equipment

  • Organize fishing and catch-and-release tools, replacing rusty, lost or malfunctioning pliers, scissors and other important items
  • Get a new ruler if your fishing measuring device has been lost or become warped
  • Clean and sharpen fillet knives
  • Stock-up on fish scent, sunscreen, SPF lip balm, bug spray and line conditioner
  • Replace batteries in electric fish scales, headlamps, flashlights, portable bait aerators and other electrical devices
  • Put a fish towel for wiping hands in your fishing tackle bag


  • Clean and reapply the durable water repellency coating to rain gear, replace with a new rain suit if necessary
  • Ensure you have UV Buffs, sun shirts and hats
  • Inspect polarized fishing sunglasses, getting new ones if lenses are scratched
  • Organize gloves, toques and insulating layers for cool spring mornings
  • Don’t forget about footwear, ensuring you have options for cold, rain and hot sun
  • Test waders and boots for leaks, fixing or replacing


  • Perform trailer inspection, checking lights, tires for wear, and so on
  • Complete trailer maintenance and repairs
  • Service the motor (if not done in the fall)
  • Check fluid levels and overall condition of deep cycle and cranking batteries
  • Remove trolling motor prop and remove any tangled fishing line on the shaft
  • Wash, vacuum and tidy your boat
  • Return any boating items removed for storage season, such as oars, docking ropes, drift socks and anchor
  • Clean and inspect life jackets; follow maintenance for inflatable models
  • Review boat safety kit and make sure it’s up to date, which may include replacing expired flares and putting fresh batteries in the flashlight
  • Go through the boat first aid kit, checking medications for expiration and topping-up supplies
  • Restock boat rags
  • For kayak or canoe anglers, check the condition of carrier racks and that all required items are on hand

Are you taking a fishing trip this season? Do as much planning and preparation now before the open-water season gets underway. Making a “to-do” list is a good starting point.

Have we missed any chores and to-dos for getting ready for fishing season? Let us know and we’ll add them to this list. Have a safe and fish-filled season!