The thick sheets of ice that covered ponds and rivers in winter is slowly disappearing, making way for the sportsmen of spring to launch their boats and cast their lines.Wednesday marks the first day of Open Water Fishing Season.After a long, cold winter, fishermen finally got the chance to dust off their rods. And as you can see, the shores were packed with people eager to dive into Open Water Fishing Season…OR NOT. “Typically on opening day in Southern Penobscot County, as you can see behind us, the streams are pretty high from the recent rain and snow melt, the opportunity just really isn’t there… Lakes and ponds still iced in. Just yesterday they were ice fishing, so it’ll be a transition here for a few weeks.” Says Jim Fahey, District Game Warden.But, for those diehard fishermen who ARE out on these partially iced in waters, Fahey says, you must fish from shore for safety reasons.Fahey also tells us that last year’s rules still apply. “For those of you going through your tackle box, this is what last year’s book was like and this is what we want you to use this year.” And as always, everyone over 16 needs a fishing license.Game Wardens say this time of year they actually expect to see more boaters hitting the waters. “What I’ll see more of in the next few weeks is, rather than fishing activity here, will be people getting ready fro the canoe race.” says Fahey.We even found one kayaker braving the Kenduskeag. “[Tuesday] there was quite a bit of ice but today it’s not that bad.” says Dustin Cyr, a brave and experienced kayaker.Fahey reminds boaters to take the proper safety precautions. He says they should review both their supplies and their operation checklists. And of course… “The helmet’s a good idea always.” Cyr adds.Fahey says anyone with questions about rules or conditions should call a Game Warden before heading out, it’s better to be safe than sorry.For more on rules, regulations, and conditions, you can visit the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife website.Boating Supplies Checklist – Use the following boating supplies checklist as a guide for the materials you should have with you on a boating trip. Add to this list as required. The items you may actually need will vary depending upon the type of boat and water, as well as the boating activity you plan to enjoy.Proper Coast Guard approved PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices) for each person on board. The PFDs must be properly sized and in good condition. For boats 16 feet and over, you must have an additional throwable device. Approved, fully charged fire extinguishers for motorboats. Bell or whistle, as required. Visual distress signaling devices. Paddles or oars. Anchor and Anchor line. Tool kit, spare parts, bail bucket and flashlight. Any needed charts, tide table, current table, and navigation equipment. For longer outings or outings to a remote location, other items such as food, water and survival equipment could be added to your checklist.Safe operation of a boat depends greatly on proper maintenance and preparation. The actions of the operator and passengers are also important in ensuring a safe and enjoyable trip. The checklist below includes items that can ensure the safe outcome of your trip. Some of these items will be the same, no matter what kind of boating you do. However, to make sure that all points are covered, create your own checklist and add to it as experience indicates.Full fuel tank. Lights and horn working. Boat checked for leaks, bailed out, boat plug in. Fuel lines and tanks checked for leaks. Weather and water conditions are suitable. All gear and supplies properly stowed and secure. Propeller in good condition, lower unit free of debris. Passengers seated and briefed on emergency procedures. Their PFDs should be checked for proper fit.