Spring brings fresh start to season

Two days stand out each year on my fishing calendar.

The first trip of the spring and the farewell voyage each fall serve as bookends for my fishing season – not so much because of the tally of the catches, but rather for what they symbolize.

In fishing as in life, spring is the fresh start after a long and somber winter. I go to the water for my annual icebreaker fishing trip with great optimism for a bountiful year. My fall finale is the capper to a fun season and the first day of the countdown to high hopes for the coming year.

My 2018 fishing year started officially this week after long months of tackle prep and a preseason visit to Ravenna Marine to make sure the BassCat and its Mercury power plant are shipshape for the months of work awaiting them.

I was itching for fishing as I hooked up the trailer and towed up to Mosquito Creek Reservoir. But I tempered my enthusiasm with the reality that the air and water were still chilly.

At the ramp, I saw Ohio Division of Wildlife equipment and personnel at work with the walleyes brought in by the boat crew visiting nets out on the lake. The team at the ramp expertly stripped eggs and milt and mixed them to fertilize a new generation of walleyes to be stocked at Mosquito and elsewhere in Ohio.

Reports have been positive and one of the crew members confirmed the nets have yielded a large number of quality walleyes – all returned to the lake after completing their contribution to the spawning work. All of this is good news for the thousands of anglers who visit Mosquito each year for the walleye fishing.

I enjoy walleye fishing, but I’m a bass guy at heart, so after launching the boat I pulled out several rods rigged for largemouths. I strapped them to the deck, snapped my life vest and ignited the outboard.

The sweet smell of two-cycle smoke confirmed spring had sprung – even if the thermometer showed 48 degrees.

I’ve idled through the gap in the breakwall countless times in the past, but each experience is better than the last. Spreading out from the bow was a vista featuring dozens of locations where I’ve found success in the past.

A few other anglers took similar advantage of the opportunity to visit Mosquito the day I was there, but they were spread across the 7,000 acres to the point where I felt the sense I was alone on my own private water.

I had rods rigged for fishing, but I was content to use the day as time to blow out the winter cobwebs. I throttled up and trimmed the Merc to full speed for a fast dash to the causeway, where I swung back to the south and ran to several offshore spots.

Eyes focused on the Lowrance sonar screen, I slowly motored a zig-zag course over points and flats. To my delight, I spotted nice stands of vegetation growing several feet off the bottom.

Come summer, the aquatic weeds will support tons of baitfish and yellow perch, along with an abundance of largemouth bass, walleyes and crappies.

I did make a few casts during my two hours on the lake, but hauled only water as the bass were still a bit bewildered by the lingering cold weather.

No fish, of course, does not mean the time was wasted. Everything worked perfectly and all signs pointed to another fun year for all of us anglers. I’m certainly ready.


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