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Brewer_1Elaine Brewer
Information and Education Coordinator, Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF)
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The snow has melted for, hopefully, the last time this year. The birds are chirping. The sun is rising a little earlier every day. The temperature is on a steady climb. The fishing shows and outdoor expos are over. It’s about that time to get back on the water!

Although we just want to rush to the water and throw our lines in, there’s actually a process to the mad rush in wetting the lines for the first time of the season. Anglers meticulously check gear in preparation for the warm weather. Because, honestly, why would you waste a good day on the water to fix gear? Do it beforehand, when it’s still just cold enough to keep you off the water.

So how do you get ready for fishing? Follow these steps from some of MarineFisheries most experienced recreational anglers:

-After finding and dusting off your gear, lay it out and take inventory of what you have. Did you lose or break something last year that needs replacing? Put it on the list!

-Break down your reels to clean and lubricate. Make sure there are no broken parts and if there are…fix them! Or bring them to someone who can. When putting the reels back together, be sure that all the parts are included and always test them out to make sure they’re put back together correctly! Almost nothing is worse than a reel blowing up while you’re hooked on a fish.

-Most line manufacturers want you to replace your fishing line every year. We all know that gets tedious and expensive. If you’re not replacing your line every year, inspect the line. Look and feel for any damage (nicks or pulls, anything that feels even a little different than the rest of the line). If you don’t feel any breakage or disturbance in the line, replace at least the first 50 yards or so. This section sees the most action and gets the most damage.

-Check the rod shaft and guides for any tears, splits, or nicks. If there is even a little bit of damage in the guides or shaft, it may mean losing the big one, getting an injury, and most probably a lot of colorful language. 

-Tie rigs. The more rigs that can be made in advance, the better! Nothing is worse than losing or breaking rigs on the water and not having any to replace them.

-Sharpen hooks.  Catching a fish with a dull, rusty hook is like cutting a steak with a spoon it just doesn’t work.

-Get all the bait and tackle you need, and anything you put on the gear list, from your local tackle shop. Be sure to grab a copy of the Massachusetts Saltwater Recreational Fishing Guide (you can view it online here) and familiarize yourself with the regulations for your favorite saltwater species. 

Of course, don’t forget your 2013 Saltwater Recreational Fishing Permit! If you don’t have yours yet, pick one up at one of many vendors (mapped here) or purchase one online here.

Anything else you need can be found on the MarineFisheries website. Have fun when you get out there and tight lines!

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