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Start the new year with an angling resolution - or two

The turning of the calendar marks a rebirth of thought and reflection for many of us. To observe the event, we celebrate and focus on self-improvement by making New Year's resolutions. The practice dates back to the early Babylonians, although a popular resolution in that culture was returning borrowed farm equipment.

I checked the garage yesterday and unfortunately, I don't have any borrowed farm equipment to return. An assortment of my father-in-law's tools, yes, but no farm equipment.

When it comes to New Year's resolutions there are plenty of options. Exercise, terminate a bad habit, reconnect with a long-lost friend, the list could go forever.

This year, I urge you to make more than one resolution. I realize managing all those changes may require a pen and paper to scribble out a checklist of duties to post on the refrigerator, but instead of the standard, life-modification, jot down a few fishing resolutions.

Bring someone fishing

According to research, youth participation in outdoors activities is declining. Take some time this coming year to introduce a youngster to the sport of fishing. It's an activity they can enjoy for a lifetime. Be a mentor in not only catching fish, but conservation and environmental stewardship.

Though it's important for us to provide opportunities for kids to get outdoors, don't forget about giving other adults a chance to get on the water too. Invite a neighbor or friend to join you in the boat or on the dock.

Change your fishing line

Think about it, five minutes and you can check this resolution off your list.

Even if you don't go fishing much, your line could use an update. Monofilament fishing line can deteriorate over time, especially when exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight or extreme heat. At minimum, re-spool once a year. It not only increases your odds of successfully battling a big fish to the boat, it contributes to getting more bites in general.

Keep in mind that six- or eight-pound test line is suitable for most applications. If your drag is properly adjusted, you'll be able to land a fish much larger than 6 or 8-pounds.

Check the Regulations

As experimental regulations for individual lakes increases, confusion becomes an issue. Grab two copies of the Minnesota fishing regulations and keep one in your vehicle and one in your boat. Check signs at the public launch for any experimental slots and reduced limits.

Don't buy a license yet

Yes, you do need a fishing license to go angling, but even though the calendar is rotating, your current fishing license is valid until April 30, 2009. Just don't forget to renew your license at that time since the reminder on your New Year's resolution check list probably won't convince a Conservation Officer of your good intentions.

Keep a few, release a few

It's important to release some fish back into the lakes for future size improvement and increased reproduction, but keeping a few for a fish dinner is all right too. However, the only way to accomplish this resolution is to actually get out on the water; winter, spring, summer or fall. One bit of advice: don't check this resolution off your list. That way you'll work towards accomplishment, by fishing of course, over and over again. Not a bad way to start the year!