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Anglers can benefit from making New Year's resolutions

Ah, the turning of a new calendar year marks a fresh beginning for everyone. Sure, we can forget the past; fishless days and mosquito infested camping trips, the "incident" involving the tow vehicle's front quarter panel and an oak tree at the public access and of course, the overlooked crappie in the livewell, forgotten for several days sometime mid-July.

Yes, the New Year presents opportunity to redeem ourselves from past mistakes. You are no longer required to live up to your title as "Bean Eating Champion" and others have finally forgotten about my fear of spiders.

There is no doubt we will all make a mistake or two that results in disappointment, yet however inevitable, a little conscious effort can turn 2008 into your best fishing year yet. Call them fishing resolutions if you will.

Change your line

Spooling up with fresh monofilament is a popular pre-opener tradition for many people. Yet ice anglers often pass on the idea of brand new line, since they use such short lengths of it for a short season. However, the memory and decomposition that occurs over time ultimately affects the number of fish you'll land.

Worse yet, consistently breaking lines leave hooks in fish mouths and strands of fishing line in the water, proving hazardous to wildlife. Once you've changed your line, discard the old stuff in recycling bins located at sporting goods retailers, further protecting the environment.

Fish for the fun of it

We live in a competitive, time constrained world and although catching the most or the biggest fish garners merit, finding solace in even the worst outing is worth something too.

This year, take the time to cast a cork float and angle worm from the shoreline, then revel as a sunfish pulls it under. Leave your watch behind and return home at sunset.

Give equipment attention

A 75-cent tube of gear lube can prevent investment in a new fishing reel. It also keeps your fishing friends from cringing at the noise emitted by your malfunctioning reel, which currently sounds like two squirrels sword fighting. Other items that will keep your fishing partners from despising you are as follows: fully charged marine batteries, trailer tires in working condition, a full gas tank and a seasonally maintained outboard.

Try a new lake

With so many lakes surrounding our area, there are bound to be a few you haven't experienced. Check out the Department of Natural Resources' "Lakefinder" feature on their Web site that provides valuable information such as fish stocking data and free lake maps at Don't forget to check on experimental regulations for your new destination.

Help someone catch a fish According to a 2001 survey by the American Sportfishing Association, approximately 388,000 Minnesota youth ages 6-15 participate in angling. This number represents 53 percent of the population of that age group, meaning 47 percent of those kids never went angling in the past year.

Yet it's not only kids who deserve the opportunity to take part in angling. Possibly a friend, neighbor or even family member hasn't ever had the chance to soak a minnow or even make a cast into the water. Many times they are simply waiting for an invitation, so don't hesitate, make this a year for someone else to remember.