Early Season Fishing Success

April 11, 2011 by  

By Bob Jensen

More and more, anglers are getting on and in the water. Some folks are fishing from boats, some are wading, and some are fishing from docks or shore. Some anglers are catching fish, some aren’t catching too much. If you want to catch more fish early in the fishing season, following are some ideas for doing so.

Early in the season it pays big dividends to understand a little bit about the fish you’re chasing. In the Midwest you can chase several species of fish on the same body of water. Keep in mind that, right now, northern pike have probably completed spawning, walleyes are probably spawning, and bass and panfish are getting ready to spawn. While you might want to catch walleyes, you will 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 eat your bait, if you want to feel a tug on your line, you will increase your chances for that if you try for pike or panfish.

Also, keep in mind that the water is still pretty cool, and many fish don’t want to chase a bait in cold water. A slow presentation will often be best. If walleyes are the target, try crawling a stand-up Fire-Ball jig tipped with a minnow across the bottom. Give it plenty of stops as you drag it. The stand-up head is better this time of year, as it “stand up” when you stop it. The fish can see the minnow better with the stand-up head, which increases your odds for getting bit.

Same thing is true for most other species. A spinnerbait that’s retrieved slowly will be good for pike, but a Gulp! or Powerbait Jerk Shad will be even better. These baits can be retrieved slower than the spinnerbait, and the pike like that. So do most bass.

If crappies are the quarry, try a tiny Power Tube under a slip-bobber. The slip-bobber will allow you to suspend a bait at a certain level, and that’s a big deal this time of year. 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. Remember that most fish see up better than they see down, so set your bobber stop so the bait is at the fish’s eye-level or just a tad higher. Baits that are below a fish rarely get eaten.

When you’re fishing with a slip-bobber for panfish, remember that because the bait is almost motionless, the fish are going to be able to get a good look at it. Many anglers go with lighter line to reduce the chances of the line spooking the fish. I don’t know if the fish get scared of line, but I do know that tiny jigs usually perform better on light line. Four pound Trilene XL is a great line choice for tiny jigs under slip-bobbers.

One more thing: This time of year, it might feel warm on shore, but even a light wind will cool things off. Early in the year, my Cabela’s Guidewear is a necessary part of my equipment. It cuts the wind and keeps me comfortable and interested in the fishing. If you’re cold, fishing isn’t as much fun.

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

To see all the newest episodes of Fishing the Midwest television, visit fishingthemidwest.com


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