I hate to bring this up, but there are a few things you might want to do between now and, well, possibly as soon as tomorrow.
This weekend, with its extreme minus tides, is one of the best clam-digging weekends of the year. If you go, don’t forget to renew your sport-fishing license. While you’re at it, pick up a free copy of the 2012 Sport Fishing Regulation Summary and tide book. These can usually be found wherever fishing licenses are sold. Even if you’ve read it all before, it’s a good idea to bone up on the regulations for the area where you intend to fish or dig clams. Things change, memories fade.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. If you’re planning on wading in any Alaska lakes or streams this year, don’t wear felt-soled boots. Footgear with absorbent felt or other fibrous material on the soles has been illegal since Jan. 1, 2012. The Alaska Board of Fisheries adopted the regulation banning felt-soled waders in 2010, to reduce the potential for the introduction and spread of invasive organisms into Alaskan fresh waters. It’s a small step for what may be a major problem, but not wearing felt soles may help.
King salmon will be starting to return this month, so get that king gear ready. Your reel’s drag should smoothly release line from the spool. Your line, the most important part of your tackle, should be in like-new condition. When you’ve fished for two or three days without a bite, and you finally get a big king on, you don’t want to lose it because you tried to save a few bucks or didn’t replace line you’d been using for years.
Ignorance is another reason kings are lost. The first time I fished for king salmon in saltwater was in the late 1960s, with my father on a trip from Anacortes, Wash., to Southeast Alaska in a 19-foot, outboard-powered cabin cruiser. The old man didn’t care much for fishing, but he relented to my wheedling near Stuart Island, B.C., a place known for its king-salmon fishing. I dropped my diver, flasher and spoon over the side, free-spooled out some line, and no sooner clicked the reel into gear when a big fish pulled hard on my line. I felt that jolt of adrenaline that only a first date or a first king salmon can give, but then my line went limp. Dejected, I reeled in. The knot I’d tied to the front of the diver, a clinch knot, had come loose. I’d not only lost the fish, but the only king salmon gear I’d brought along. To make matters worse, the old man caught two kings, one after the other. If that weren’t bad enough, he then stowed his gear and got under way while I cleaned his fish.
After that debacle, I never tied another clinch knot. I learned the Palomar knot and the Trilene knot, and I started catching kings. You’ll find instructions for these and other good knots in tide books and on the Internet. Now, before the action starts, is a good time to tie those king rigs.
Every year, someone fails to grease his trailer wheel bearings, one of which seizes up halfway between Kenai and Homer. He spends the remainder of the weekend figuring out how to get the boat and trailer home. You’d think he’d learn. A little grease prevents a lot of grief.
Be sure the lights on your boat trailer are working before you hit the road this spring. When trailers stop and signal lights don’t turn on at the appropriate times, vehicles have been known to collide with the sterns of boats.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Get up from that couch. Spring is here.
Les Palmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.