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Lots Of Fishing Options

By Bob Jensen

In some areas, anglers have no problem finding a place to go fishing at any time of the year.  There might be times when the fishing can be better, but those folks always or almost always can find a place to fish.  

Other anglers, mostly those in the Ice Belt, believe that they are very limited in their fishing options at this time of year.  I was a member of that group many years ago.  I believed that the period of time between ice-out and open water fishing was a time for getting open water tackle ready to go.  I’ve discovered that there are probably more open water fishing options available than you might think.  If you live in an area where you think open water fishing isn’t realistic, consider these options.

In some states, our fishing options are limited due to closed fishing seasons.  Some species of fish, mostly walleyes, pike, bass and muskies are protected during their spawning period. But panfish are fair game in many of those places, and early in the year, crappies, perch, and other panfish can be very susceptible to a bait.  Many of us live near a small pond or lake with good panfish populations.  

When panfish are the target, try a small jig/Mr. Crappie Tube under a slip-bobber.  The slip-bobber will allow you to suspend a bait at a specific level.  That’s very important.  You’ll need to experiment a bit to determine what the proper level is, but once you do, you’ll be able to get fish to bite that may have gone uncaught.  At times you might want to add a small minnow to your jig.  If you’re confident that you’re fishing near fish but they’re not eating your bait, the minnow might be what it takes.  Not always but sometimes. 

I have so many fond memories of slipping into my chest-waders in March or April and walking in the water with a spinning rod and small selection of jigs.  KVD Jerkbaits can also be very good.  These small rivers can be found almost anywhere, and they’re home to walleyes, northern pike, and smallmouth bass. Search out the areas where the current isn’t as strong and keep your casts short.  Long casts often result in snags.  The stained water that is abundant in the spring in many rivers prevents the fish from spooking. I remember a good number of fish eating my lure with less than ten feet of line out.

Also, don’t forget the many major rivers like the Mississippi and Missouri.  They can provide outstanding walleye action this time of year.  Again, it’s a jig/minnow or jig/plastic bite.

It’s helpful to understand a little bit about the fish you’re chasing in the early spring. Depending on where you live, keep in mind that northern pike spawn first, walleyes are next, and bass and panfish will be next in line for spawning.  So although you might want to catch walleyes, if they’re spawning, you might be better off trying for pike or panfish.  When fish are spawning, that’s what they have on their mind.  They aren’t real interested in eating, so, although some males might be willing to take your bait, you will increase your chances to get bit if you try for pike or panfish.

Keep these ideas in mind and you’ll increase your chances for early season fishing success.

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