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About time to think about fishing again

March 25, 2018 GMT

Spring was here, and then it left again. Don’t worry, it will be back. Warmer temperatures are just around the corner, and before you know it we will be mowing lawns and planting gardens. Isn’t the outdoors grand?

With warmer temps in the works, ice is melting and I have been thinking about fishing again. Most of the smaller lakes have open water, but there is still some ice on some of the larger lakes. A word of caution about ice this time of year. As the ice begins to melt, it becomes honeycombed and is not stable. Also, ice usually becomes thin along the bank edges first, so be extremely careful if you venture out onto the ice to get in one last ice fishing excursion. I would probably advise against it.

As the ice disappears, those of us who are anxious to wet a line may be in for some slow fishing. Early in the spring, fish are pretty sluggish as their metabolism is still lower from colder water temps. Live baits do tend to generate the best responses, but fish can be hooked with lures. Expect to use a very slow approach, and really finesse your lures past the fish. It may take several casts in the same area to spark their hunger reflex.

Cold water fish, such as trout and salmon, are not as affected by colder water temperatures and tend to stay more active. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has released rainbow trout into the west pond at Pawnee Park. Anglers, both younger and older, can take part in the fun of a hard fighting trout on the end of your line. Trout will bite good on cheese, worms, marshmallows, corn, and small shiny lures. Take your ultralight gear down to the lake and try your hand at these tasty fish.

Walleye are one of the earlier fish to spawn, and move into the shallows for this annual ritual. Walleyes will hang out right next to dropoffs and in currents close to shallow water during the spring, and will bite aggressively with the right approach. Knowing where the fish are is far more important than what they are biting on.

Northern pike are actually the first to spawn, sometimes beginning to spawn before the ice is completely gone. Pike are voracious eaters, and will bite very well in the early spring. Be sure to put your leaders on for these toothy critters, as they will cut through fishing line in an instant.

Turkey hunting season is coming right up too, with the youth shotgun season opening April 7th. Take the opportunity to take a youngster hunting this year, and introduce them to the heart pounding fast paced sport of hunting turkeys. They will be hooked for life.

All kids between 11-29 need to have taken the hunters safety course, and carry proof with them when hunting with a firearm. To sign up for a class, go to www.register-ed.com, and search for a class near you. There will be a class in Columbus starting March 27 at the VFW. Sign up today.

Have a great week, and remember, a day spent in the outdoors is never a waste. Whether you catch or see anything, or not, you got some fresh air, exercise, and just enjoyed the beautiful outdoors.

Taxidermy Tip of the Week: Skin mount vs replica. What are the pros and cons of each?

Skin mount fish are when a taxidermist skins out your fish, cleans and preserves the skin, and then mounts the skin over a foam mannikin. When dry, the fish skin is sealed, shrunken areas rebuilt, eyes installed, and the entire fish is painted and glossed.

The advantage is that it is your fish. You will get your fish back. It is a one of a kind. All of the distinct markings and details of your fish make up it’s individuality. Fish are like fingerprints, each one is unique.

The disadvantage is that it will not last forever. A well mounted fish will last around 30-35 years before it starts to break down and things start coming apart. Skin mounts definitely have a shelf life. This is certainly long enough for most peoples lifetime, but your grandkids probably won’t be able to enjoy it much.

The other con in this equation is that it probably is not a perfect specimen. Most large fish, which is what you would mount, have some battle scars. Missing scales, notched and damaged fins, missing teeth, and so on, are quite common. These can be repaired, though some people prefer to leave it original.

With a replica, you will get a perfect mount. All of the fins will be perfect. Any damaged or missing scales will have already been repaired. Your trophy will be perfect. No flaws or imperfections. In my opinion, this is the way that I want a trophy to look. If I am going to go to the expense of having a trophy mounted, I want it as close to perfect as possible. Again, this is my opinion, and some folks prefer individuality.

Replicas will also last indefinitely. There is no shelf life on them, and it can be passed down for many generations. There is no reason that a replica should ever go bad, as long as a decent paint job was applied.

The next time you are thinking of having a fish mounted, consider releasing the fish to live another day, and have a replica made of your fish. Take some good pictures and measurements, and a qualified taxidermist can make a very realistic replica of your prize catch.