At last, things are looking good. BraidwoodLake opened last month as did LaSalleLake. For Braidwood it was a decent opener and it's just going to get better and better as the water warms up a bit more.
When Braidwood first opened, the fish there have not seen a lure since last October. Because of that, they were anxious to bite. That's just one of the things that make this such a fun lake. You can throw spinnerbaits, crankbaits, use plastics or live bait. The fish are seeing things that they have not seen in a long time and so they want to eat them.
We've all been excited to get our boats out and many shore anglers were also ready to fish the open water. It's been a strange winter and I for one am ready for warm weather that’s finally come to the Chicagoland area.
When these lakes opened, it was for many the first time that many anglers even looked at their boat since last fall. If you have not yet fished open water, 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; no more than a couple seconds. Better still, you can connect a garden hose to the lower unit with a pair of muffs that feed water into the motor. With the muffs you can start the motor safely to make sure that it’s 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 Octane Boost. Sometimes it's that little extra kick that it takes to get a tired motor to start.
Now, is the plug in the boat? How many times have you heard that? Not enough times I'm sure because we all at one time or another forget and had to return to the ramp to put the plug in. I remember launching at Braidwood when it first opened 18 years ago. I was so excited to fish the new lake that I forgot to unhook my transom straps. Couldn't figure out why the boat would not leave the trailer. It happens.
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 that first trip. 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’ve never fished Braidwood before and don't have a map of the lake, now would be a good time to get one. One can get lost out there and run into trouble with shallow water. 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 just lost their ice in March, 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 conversation with Rob Miller, DNR Fisheries Biologist who maintains BraidwoodLake, I learned that basically there are three dominant species of fish in the lake. They are the catfish, bluegills, and largemouth bass.
Surveys at the lake showed that catfish was the number one specie pursued and caught at Braidwood. Many bass clubs love this lake. Shore anglers seemed to do well on the panfish. I’ve always been a believer that spring time is the best time for big bass at Braidwood. Many people don’t get their boats out until Memorial Day but I say that April is a great month to fish Braidwood.
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 we are out there we want to catch fish. Look for the warmer water and have a ball. Fishing at Braidwood will be hot in April. But not only that, you'll see that great fishing is not that far away.
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