When my kids were struggling through their teenage years, we had frequent talks about making resolutions.

Failure is part of moving forward. New Year’s resolutions will almost certainly go down in flames. Better to set an “end point” for your goal and work toward that.

This should be an easy goal to achieve in 2019. Last year, I only got out fishing 152 days, far below the annual average during the past 30 years—at least.

Starting a fishing diary is a great resolution if your focus is an end-point goal. I’ve been keeping such a diary since 1976.

The value of these notes grows exponentially with passage of every year. Little pearls like the epiphany that walleyes spawn within 72 hours of April 1 in the Rock River are invaluable in achieving consistent angling success.

Looking back at the year just past, the reason for limited piscatory participation is clear: high water. No wake restrictions on many lakes and tough access to both lakes and rivers made it tough to get out last year.

With more water to hide in, fish were tougher to pattern.

This year is starting out like December 2015. What a great year! There was open-water fishing until Dec. 28, with a 114-pound sturgeon boated on Dec. 15 and 241 days on the water that year.

Right now there are both ice and open-water opportunities within 100 miles of Janesville. Personally, the open-water option holds greater appeal, simply because it’s tough to fall through the bottom of a boat.

A bag of sand, shovel and come-along are standard equipment in the truck this time of year, with a waterproof bag full of handwarmers, gloves and a propane heater forever ready in the Lund.

Minnows are catching a break this year. Until just a couple of years ago, a bucketful of lively minnows has been part of every cold-water expedition in the boat. DNR rules regarding transport of live bait and the evolution of soft plastics have convinced me to leave the minnow bucket home this year.

I’m a huge fan of both Kalin and B-Fish-N tackle soft plastics, especially paddletail baits for walleyes. B-Fish-N tackle offers precision jighheads, with the weight stamped on the back of every jighead.

These jigheads are offered in odd sizes like 3/16 and 5/16 oz. This kind of precision can make a huge difference in both trolling and casting soft plastics. My jigbox has these weighted hooks in every size from 1/8 to 3/8 ounce in just one color: pyrokeet. Pyrokeet contains several colors, just like a parrot’s head.

I’ve found most active walleyes swimming in 12 feet of water or less so far this year, with saugers holding at essentially double this depth in slightly faster water.

Crawling a jig/soft plastic along the bottom will usually result in at least a couple of bites in a day on the water once fish are located. Swimming this offering within six inches of the bottom will produce more and bigger fish.

Using 10-pound test monofilament works better than superbraid or fluorocarbon line because it floats a little better in the water column. Throwing the lure out with a long cast behind the boat and pulling it upstream with the electric trolling motor at about 0.3 mph should swim the lure pretty close to the bottom.

Presentation can be easily adjusted by changing speed or adjusting how much line is being dragged behind the boat.

Casting and swimming a lure a few inches above the bottom requires a little more finesse. Keeping the rod tip at about a 45 degree angle makes this process a little easier.

Perfecting this technique takes time on the water.

Fishing more this year works toward an end-point resolution of 10,000 days on the water. By any measure, a life well lived.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc

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