As the trees start to bear leaves, and the world around us starts to turn green, the itch begins to surface. I do not do much winter fishing just because I despise cold weather, but as soon as temperatures start to rise, I get out on the lake, in the river or find a friend with a boat.
March through May, fishing can be hit or miss. Overall, I have much better luck during the summer months. When you are ready to get back out there, there are some tips and tricks to help you find success in those early springtime fishing months.
My go-to springtime fish has always been trout. There are plenty of good rivers and streams in the Midwest where you will find rainbows, cutthroats, and browns. These fish love cold, spring-fed waters, so the spring is an ideal time to go. Many years my father and I have gone turkey hunting in April but brought out trout gear for evenings. We would hunt all morning, take a nap, and then put on our waders for evening fishing.
The two best places to find trout in the springtime are behind structures and at junctions in the waterway. The rivers move faster due to springtime rains, so any break in the current is an excellent place to cast. Also, spring rains cause small streams to drag food into more significant flows. These junctions are likely where you will find trout waiting for a meal. If I am not fly fishing, my all-time favorite bait is little salad shrimp.
Many people assume that smallmouth will not bite when the water is colder in the spring. It is true the fishing is not as easy as the summer months, but you have to find where they are located. They will bite once you find the fish. The best areas to cast are where deep channels transition into shallow areas. These are typically found along with points that jut into the lake. Once you get a bite, keep fishing that same area.
The silver buddy blade is ideal for this type of fishing. It creates an energetic vibration as you drag it along the bottom of the lake. You will need a stiff fishing rod to get the right jerking motion on the lure. The color makes no difference.
One aspect of springtime fishing is dealing with flooding. Flooding can help with river largemouth. You want to find the section of water that is generally at the new banks of the flooded area. As the water spills out of the river onto grassy banks, the water should be clean and full of food for the fish.
As for how to get their attention, more is better. Use a large lure that makes a lot of noise. Use a scent or flavor product on the bait. Using a trailer, bounce that thing off of every rock and log you can to make as much noise as you can. Dark colored lures will work better this time of year.
In the fall, walleye will leave lakes and travel upstream to spend the winter. In the spring months, they are often still in these rivers. They do like warmer water, so looking for shallow spots is the way to go. Try to focus on junctions between two streams.
As is with other fish in the spring, you want to do as much as you can to get their attention. An ideal lure is the No. 7 Rapala Countdown Minnow in chartreuse. You need a bright color to catch their eye. It is also a good idea to smear the lure with a fish attractant to give yourself an edge in the limited lighting.
The point is, springtime fishing can be a blast if you know what changes to make to your strategy. As you can see, the places you look and the lures you use can vary significantly from the summertime. Make these adjustments, and you can head home with a full stringer.
Chef Bobby is a Chef and Cookbook Author. He loves to share his knowledge of cooking and handling of fish with our community.