If you’re like lots of other Louisiana anglers, fishing took somewhat of a back seat when duck and deer season kicked in last fall.
But when March rolls around with spring almost in the air, our thoughts once again turn to the water — and the lunker bass, slab sac-a-lait, fat specks and line-pulling reds that call Louisiana and Mississippi marshes, bays and lakes home.
So now’s the time to get your boat back in shape — instead of trying to take care of everything in the dark the night before your next trip — and Capt. Ted DeAgano III came up with 10 tips to ensure you’ll have a safe, worry-free fishing season.
And he should know: the 46-year-old owner of Scales-N-Tales Charters out of Hopedale is a second-generation guide who spends more than 200 days on the water each year.
Here are DeAgano’s Top 10 tips for trouble-free trips:
1. Fill up with fresh, non-ethanol gas.
“That’s a key thing,” he said. “Otherwise you’ll have water in your fuel, and water in the fuel in an outboard is a horrible thing.”
2. Inspect and charge your batteries.
“The last thing you want to do is get out there and run your bait tank for an hour, and then have all your batteries go dead and you can’t start your boat,” he said.
3. Keep a good fish ruler onboard.
“All fish now have limits other than white trout, so know your sizes,” DeAgano said.
4. Organize your boat’s paperwork.
“The registration, your fishing licenses, driver’s license, proof of insurance if you have it and your Coast Guard / Wildlife and Fisheries golden ticket,” he said. “Have that handy so you can show them your boat’s already been inspected.”
5. Check your oil.
“The last thing you want to do on the water is break down and have to get towed in,” he said.
6. Check your life jackets and make sure you have a throw ring onboard.
“Life jackets have expiration dates on them,” DeAgano said. “Make sure all that’s up to regulation.”
7. Inspect your anchor rope.
“You can normally get 100 feet of ⅜-inch anchor rope for under $25, and the last thing you want is to be out at a spot near the rocks or a rig and have your anchor rope pop,” he said. “The next thing you know, you’re slammed up in the rocks and are having a very bad day.”
8. Check your horn; have a whistle onboard.
“The is usually the last thing everybody thinks about, but both are Coast Guard and Wildlife and Fisheries requirements,” DeAgano said. “If somebody is coming at you, you want to be able to blast your horn to let them know you’re around.”
9. Keep an up-to-date first aid kit and working fire extinguisher onboard.
10. Make a float plan — and be as specific as possible.
“It’s always best to let somebody know what area you’re going to be fishing in — and try not to change that area,” he said. “ At least let someone at the dock know what zone you’re going to be in if you don’t return so they’ll know where to search.
“If you say you’re fishing Hopedale, for some people that covers Shell Beach, Delacroix, Pointe a’ la Hache and the Biloxi Marsh. So if you say Hopedale but actually go to the Biloxi Marsh — and your rescuers are thinking Lake Robin — there’s 20 miles in between where you are and where they’ll be searching.”