Fishing tactics to use in the early-spring season


After being caught indoors and getting bored all winter, there’s nothing like spring fishing to sweep away all the cobwebs of the past cold season. Once you’ve gotten everything ready, it’s time to brush up on your early spring fishing tactics, as it never hurts to become better every season.

Fishing for trout

A high-and-dirty trout river will easily show you where the fishing slow seams, breaks, and eddies are. However, you may end up with no bank left when the runoff level is really high. This would not be a brush-off for the seasoned angler. You can simply fish flooded cornfields and woods,

Water that runs over land is shallow and warms at a faster rate. A river that spills into terra firma will seek its own level and flow right back to the main body at some point, and that is the spot you want to locate.

The floodwater convergence will surely have trout stacked at the mouth considering how the baitfish and worms are delivered straight to the fish. You want to use a worm fly that gets down quickly and that acts like a large streamer. Keep the worm fly springing across the bottom as it rides any slow current or sluggish water spots where the trout might be.


Fishing for smallmouths and largemouths

Cold water can bring more high or dirty water compared to the ice thawing. The cold water will be in the 38- to 42-degree range. The fish are at their heaviest in cold water. The tricky part, however, is in locating them.

Find steep drop-offs that change to shallow spots, as those are where the bass spawn owing to the warm water. Those areas are along the sides of jutting points into the lake or at the ends. Use a Silver Buddy blade bait that provides the vibration to entice a strike.

For largemouths, find cleaner water when it is all up and muddy. You won’t be focusing on crystal clear water although greater clarity compared to the main body can be quite an advantage. Water covering the normal bank generally offers greater visibility when the banks get flooded.

Those spots are also where the baitfish are bound to be, so the bass will follow. Find the farthest areas of the flood then fish the new bank, where the water just stops. The best holding points for bass would be hard structures such as rock or wood in those areas.

You will want bottom contact when the water is murky. Tie on a really large Buckeye Mop jig, as it can stand out better in dirty water. Coat the jig with fish attractant, use a 5-inch crawfish trailer or add rattles. Do what you can to make the jig really noticeable.

Get your spinners and streamers deep when the water’s extremely high, presenting them on a split shot. Check out hydrodynamic weights that offer faster nosedives without directly interfering with the action of your lure or fly.


Fishing for walleyes

In the fall, walleyes move upriver, where they spend the winter over. In early spring, even anglers without boats can get the best opportunity to capture large pre-spawn walleyes. Slack holes below dams are known spots, among other ones, that get a decent share of walleye populations. You can also find less-stressed fish if you are willing to hunt.

More walleyes tend to congregate to shallow runs when the water gets higher. The fish are typically skinny. Locate regions with slower current junctions of eddies or smaller creeks behind wing dams. Get a No. 7 Rapala Countdown Minnow. However, you can get by with a small box of lures plus a pair of waders so there’s no need for 10 tackle bags and several trolling rods.

Fish attractants can be quite helpful.

Catching crappies

Crappies use flooded timber, wood or riprap as their spawning grounds. You can readily chance upon large pre-spawn fish transitioning to such spots. Be prepared to hunt since the fish will be on the move. Use a fishfinder to make the task less tedious and that can also give you a clear image where the fish are.

When the water is dirty, you may want to use a jig head fitted with a glow-in-the-dark tube. A 12-foot spinning rod extends your reach.


Angling for Northern pike

Pike will gravitate toward sandy, muddy or shallow water when the ice thaws away. Those flats will be warmer by a few degrees compared to the main body of water. When the water in the lake warms up, the fish run toward the weed beds and this can make them more difficult to find.

The reaction of pike to lures will be variable on a daily basis according to the water temperature and weather. There will be times when slow retrieves are required because the fish will be sluggish due to the cold water. At other times, the fish will be active.

Make it a point to cast 15 to 20 feet past the fish you are targeting and use a fast reactive at the onset. Stop the lure just when it reaches the pike. You can pick up the speed again. Spoon Bends are a sensible choice. Oh, and don’t leave home without a spinner blade that can be used ahead of your steamer flies.


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