Check gear and rules
We've reached that time of the year where the outdoor sportsman starts getting a little more excited about the prospects of getting back into nature in the hope of partaking in their favourite activities.
These will include hunting, fishing, diving, skiing and wake boarding. The actual activity doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things - the good thing is just getting outside again for those who are coming out of hibernation.
In times past I would normally have been full-on into snapper fishing by now but this season we have been hampered with a lot of easterly and southerly winds which tend to make fishing in the shallows far less productive, as well as being pretty chilly for the angler.
I have done a bit of diving over winter so am not against being cold, but for me snapper fishing is as much about enjoying my surroundings as it is about catching fish so I tend to like being out in fine weather rather than the cold.
There are a lot of good reasons to get out at this time of year if you are into the outdoors. The deer are starting to appear lower down in search of the fresh new-season grass, the crayfish are coming out of soft shell and berry (carrying eggs), the snapper are starting to come into shallower water in preparation for spawning and the sun is hanging around longer, making after-work excursions a possibility again.
With all these things taking place it is a good time to go over some of the things that can slip our minds after a winter break.
Things such as identifying our target beyond all doubt if we are hunting.
Servicing your outboard if it hasn't been used in a while if you are a boatie. Checking flares and safety equipment.
Making sure your boat trailer has a current warrant of fitness and rego.
And get the wheel bearings checked out. Why ruin a holiday or much anticipated trip when it could have been avoided with a little prep beforehand.
It is also timely to be reminded of certain regulations, especially for crayfish. I know of people who will take out a cray pot on the boat to enable them to get an extra limit of crays if they have a non-diver on board. Care needs to be taken when doing this as the laws are pretty clear that you need to be able to have a part in retrieving the pot to be valid.
You also must have your own name and address on the buoy. This one catches many out. It is not enough to have the skipper's name on the buoy if he is diving and the pot limit is yours.
Please take the time to check out current regulations and if in doubt stop in and talk with the fisheries team in the area - they are very helpful and obliging when asked for clarification on rules.
For the snapper fishers out there, it's time to make sure your gear is up to scratch. There's nothing worse than not changing your line that is a few seasons old only to hook a big fish and then lose it because the rotten line snapped.
Remember the hooks and line are still the cheapest part of fishing so spend a few dollars and have the confidence in your equipment to land what you hook.
For the diver who hasn't done much over winter, check your masks, snorkel and fins for any signs of perishing, or straps that might be ready to part company. Check your dive cylinders before you head out to make sure the air hasn't leaked out or that they are due for a visual or hydro.
It can be frustrating trying to get these things done on a Friday just before you are heading out for a weekend trip.
Try your suit on. Some of them shrink over winter. I have a friend who hadn't worn his for a few years and when he got around to trying it on, he finally squeezed into it but was stuck doing penguin impressions until he got some help to peel it off again.
Finally remember to treat what you catch or kill with respect and look after it the very best you can, as food gathered like this cannot often be beaten for taste compared to what you buy, unless it has been caught that day, which is not terribly common in Marlborough.
Remember to take kids out as well and teach them the things you know, especially the safety aspect, and get them involved in the preplanning, as it's good for them to know that things don't just happen by magic, including the cleanup.
Next week we will focus on snapper and how to increase your chances of catching them this season.
The Marlborough Express