That time of the year again, Pesach is the Jewish passover being celebrated from sunset on April 8th 2009 until Nightfall April 16th 2009. Observant Jews thouroughly clean their homes, cars and other areas belonging to them trying to rid them of any "Chametz" - leavened items such as bread, cookies, cakes and crumbs.
Here are some personal insights I compiled as an observant Jew, bear in mind that I am not a Rabbi, so you might want to confirm any of the following thoughts with your local Rabbi.
Fishing is not allowed on days of Yom Tov, April 9th through 11 and again on April 15 and 16. Fishing is permitted on Chol Hamoed (April 12-14).
It is a great activity for the kids as they are likely to be off from school. A good time to score points with the wife by taking them all and letting her have the day off after all the cleaning and cooking she's done.
I suggest cleaning your tacklebox by emptying it, vacuuming it, then windexing it. This will get rid of any crumbs or other Chametz, the windex will nullify anything you miss. Also a good time to re-organize it for the upcoming season.
Beer is Chametz, so are most hard alcohols. As drinking is often part of an enjoyable fishing trip, I suggest wine. If you need something stronger, some of the liquor stores / SAQ / LCBO outlets carry Arak, 777, and Slivovitz this time of the year. Make sure they have proper passover certification.
Although most fish are closed, a few species are open. If you plan to keep any, it is preferable to use a new knife to fillet them, although this is not mandatory. You may use your standard knife, simply rinse it well before, then rinse the cleaned fish properly when done. Throughout the process, be sure that the knife and fish remain cold.
For those of you that enjoy carping (one of the only open species around here) :
Doughballs are definitely Chametz and may NOT be used, or possessed on Pesach. If you have a stash like I do, put it away where you won't see it, together with the other chametz you own. These can be "sold" for passover, contact me if you need any additional info about selling your chametz at email@example.com .
Matzah balls (gebrokts!) may be an alternative if you can find those classic hard / golf ball like ones, otherwise you'll have a really hard time baiting them. Probably work best with hair rigs.
Corn can be used as bait, even though it may not be eaten by Ashkenazic Jews on Pesach as it is considered Kitniyot. We can still derive benefit from it, feed it to animals, use it for bait, etc. Be sure the niblets don't have any chametz additives, they usually don't.
In general, fishing is halachically permitted by all authorities when at least some of the fish are being kept for food, their skin or any other useful purposes. Some authorities permit fishing for sport only (catch and release), reasoning that the pleasure one derives is enough of a reason to justify the suffering and stress caused to the fish when fighting it, others forbid it. Again, check with your local Rabbi if this is of concern to you.