Reflections, resolutions on walleye fishing

Winter has finally come to all of us in the U.S. Midwest. It is a slower time of the year than the spring, summer, or fall.
But it also is a time of the year to reflect–and to offer some resolutions for the upcoming fishing season. Sometimes at this time of year, I catch myself day-dreaming about events and memories of last fishing season
I close my eyes and memories of last spring and summer fill my head like swirling snowflakes. Memories of cool nights spent prowling the riprap near the dam, listening to the restless chatter of southbound flocks of ducks resting on the river and the telltale splash of spawning crappies close against the shore.
Memories of humid summer days that seem to hang like the drooping willow tree branches. I smile as I remember the large walleye that my son, Jason, caught at Fort Peck, Mont.
I also remember the lost 14-pound walleye that my amateur partner knocked off the line with his over-active net handling. Which brings me back to reality in a hurry and reminds me that one resolution I have for all my partners next year is to teach them how to handle a net.
Allow the bag to fill with the weight of the fish and only scoop with the net (never poke at the fish).
Winter is necessary. Winter is the earth’s chance to lie fallow, to regroup, to prepare for a new season of birth and growth we call spring. Even the river, whose grey, cold expanse gives the appearance of lifelessness, is awaiting the transformation that will come with rising temperatures–a rise just as certain as the crawl of the sun across the sky.
Another resolution this year is to spend more quality time with my family. Sure, we all say we will but I think, as my children grow older, it is as important to do things with them and see them participate in sports and school activities.
I know being on the road at pre-fishing activities and tournaments that I do not get the time I want at home. Therefore, I am making a conscious effort to be with my family when I can.
Of course, I’m already tired of winter. I am tired of watching fishing on TV and I ache to get out on the open water. The city is dull and dreary in the cold.
As I watch the weather forecast of an upcoming storm, I reach for my file and start the task of touching up those neglected hooks.
I try to make it to the YMCA to shoot some hoops with a few friends at least twice a week. This helps me stay in shape and on top of my game for fishing tournaments. My next resolution is to do more exercise. As we all grow a little older, we need to get up from the table sooner and switch off the TV and get out and enjoy some outside activities.
I know the fish are getting ready for the upcoming season so I should, too!
Bass swim in schools in the deep channels, waiting to move to shallow water to spawn. Other species slowly fin in dark holes nearby. Cold and sluggish at the moment, they also will cruise shallow water, searching out partners for their rites of spring.
Trout and crappies, bluegills and perch, walleye and catfish all wait in the depths while nature adjusts them. Occasionally they eat but not often. Fat disappears as they swell with spawn.
I know that spring will not be to far behind and soon it will come. When the wind turns and blows from out of the south–and melting snow runs in slushy rivulets down wooded slopes and, yes, even city streets. On that day, I will be spooling ups new Trilene XT line on my reels and tightening my drags.
And on that day I’ll smile, my step will be lighter, and the world will be wearing a smile.
Closely thereafter, one fine afternoon when the temperature is climbing, the garage door will open and I will wheel out the new boat and prepare her for the maiden voyage. The hooks have all been honed to an exact sharpness, the reels have been spooled up with Trilene line, and the rods have been inspected to see if any eyes need replacing.
The Trolling Thunder batteries are installed and the Mercury motors have been tested and approved. As the boat slips off the trailer into the cool waters of the river, I will slip on my Stearns vest.
I am the luckiest soul on the face of the earth.
Reflection is always good for the soul, and the resolutions of today will make my walleye fishing a little easier next year.