Things are looking good for the open water anglers at Braidwood Lake. The lake opens on March first and the fish there have not seen a lure since last October. Because of that, they're anxious to bite.
We've all been chomping at the bit to get our boats out and many shore anglers are excited to fish the open water as well. It's been a brutal winter and I for one am ready for warm weather.
Opening day at Braidwood is often the first time that many anglers look at their boat since last fall. Check the boat ahead of time to make sure everything is in working order. Check the batteries. It would not hurt to give another charge to the starting battery and the trolling batteries so that they won't let you down at the lake.
Make sure that the water levels are all up and that there is no corrosion on the battery terminals. Get a wrench out and also make sure that all the connections are tight. One common reason for a motor to not turn over is a loose terminal.
See that the pressure is up on the trailer tires and check the spare too. While inside the boat, check all the switches. See that the bilge pump is running and all lights are working.
It won't hurt to give the motor a few cranks to see if it will start. Don't let it run out of water for a long time. You can connect a garden hose to the lower unit with a pair of muffs to make sure the motor is running smoothly. Having the motor not start is something you don't want to find out about at the boat ramps
Check on the oil reservoirs too to make sure the levels are up. Gas should be fresh or at least have StaBil in it from last fall when you put the boat away. Bad gas could cause some real frustration at the ramps and while on the water. It is a good idea to pour in a bottle of Gold Eagle's 104 Octane Boost. Sometimes it's that little extra kick that it takes to get a tired motor to start.
Is the plug in the boat? How many times have you heard that? Not enough I'm sure because we all at one time or another forget to put the plug in.
Tackle is another important thing. Are you up to snuff on that? Do you have fresh line on your reels? Are the reels clean? Now is a good time to sort all that out and be ready for opening day. There's nothing worse than being on the water and find out that you didn't bring the right baits or totally forgot to put them in the boat.
If you don't have a map of Braidwood, now would be a good time to get one. Check it out, go over your game plan and be ready to go directly to areas that you want to fish.
The water at Braidwood is warm. Unlike local lakes which have ice, this lake will offer you water that can be as much as sixty degrees. The discharge area is the place to be right now. Launching at the Kankakee Road boat ramps or fishing from that shore area will produce more fish than from the Cemetery Road side.
Watch the winds. Wind will push warmer surface temperature water to one side of this pool or the other. Look at your temperature gauge and fish the warmest water you can find.
In a recent conversation with Rob Miller, DNR Fisheries Biologist who maintains Braidwood Lake, I learned that basically from last year's creel survey, the three dominant species of fish there are the catfish, bluegills, and largemouth bass.
If you fished at Braidwood last year you may have been questioned for the survey when you were coming off the water. Anglers were asked questions about specie of fish caught, their size and numbers. Catfish was the number one specie pursued and caught at Braidwood. Shore anglers seemed to do well on the panfish.
Good news for Braidwood is that more artificial habitat will be placed in Braidwood in the late spring and this summer there are plans to plant some weeds in a number of spots out there for natural habitat. This will be a project were small plants will be set in strategic locations, one by one so it will be somewhat labor intensive. As Miller said, it will be like planting a rice field. More on that will come when additional information becomes available.
So let's get ready to head out to Braidwood. Having a good plan and being ready will make the difference between fishing and catching. You don't want to spend a lot of time, or any time for that matter, working on the boat while at the lake. While out there, we want to catch fish. Look for the warm water and have a ball because great fishing is not that far away.