Early Spring Fishing

When Does the Bite Start to Heat Up?

Early Spring Fishing

Spring Fishing. When you hear the term spring fishing, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it sunny and 60 degree days? Is it the smell of flowers starting to bloom? Is it when bass start to wake up and bite? Or is it when the ice starts to melt and the augers are being put away?

Spring starts March 20th and goes all the way through June 21st. Spring is one fourth of the entire season and can be the best time of the year to catch fish. Depending upon where you live, mid-March fishing can be really tough. For a lot of the Midwest, Northeast, and Mountain, you can usually see snow and frozen temperatures all the way through April. As lakes, ponds, and rivers start to thaw and water temps begin to rise, there is an opportunity to catch to fish. Yeah It may be more difficult but its not impossible. If you are getting over the winter blues and are eager to get on the water, its always worth giving it a shot. Here are some of the approaches that work for me on finding early spring fish.

  1. Find the Best Water to Fish- With ice starting to melt, winds & waves increasing, and spring rain arriving, a lot of the waterways start to become cloudy and murky. These conditions become more difficult to fish but don’t completely rule them out. Look for pockets of clearer water and if you are unable to find any, look for the best landscape to fish. Start with fishing waterways where there is a warm water discharge. Throughout early Spring (and even winter) you can always find big fish hanging around warm water discharges. Warm water discharges tend to be near power plants and can be a haven for early spring fishing. Find slack water or slack pools. When lakes and ponds are still partially frozen and its too early to fish, look for points along rivers, streams, or harbors with slack tides. Try and locate fish inside river bends. These unstressed pools tend to harbor a lot fish. If you are fishing rivers, look for points along the river that where the current changes direction but leaves a calm pocket. The bottom of Dams are also a great place to locate and catch fish. When fish flow over the dam, they tend to get stuck at the bottom stay around to get fish flowing over the dam. Dams tend to have a lot of predator fish and is a great place for early spring with cold weather and water temperatures.

  1. Using the Correct Set-up- Depending upon where you live and the species you are fishing, another major factor in landing early spring fish is to find what lures/baits are working. If you are fishing teethy predators, make sure you have steel leaders, a net, and jaw spreaders. When it comes to lures, use brighter colors. When the water is murky, use brighter swimbaits, cranks, and spoon. This always leaves room for success as bright colors tend to draw more attention under water. Rapid Jerk movements also serve me very well with catching fish in early spring murky conditions. If it’s a swimbait, crank, or jig, the rapid jerk movement will usually get the fishes attention. If they are hungry, they will strike.  

  1. Slow Rolling- Even though the frigid winter is slowly coming to an end, early spring fish still tend to be lethargic. One technique that works for me is to slow roll a spoon, crankbait, or Mepp. If you are using swimbaits, I tend to jig, retrieve, and then let it sit. With early spring still being really cold in most areas, even the predators tend to be less active. I usually power fish and rip my lures through pockets but in early spring, slow rolling your lure tends to be more beneficial. When fishing rivers I try to cast down river and retrieve against the current. I then slow roll the lure through the slack tide and then repeat at a deeper or higher retreive.
  1. Switch it Up- Some people use certain colors for certain days. Some believe that one color wont work on cloudy days and certain colors only work on sunny days. Well try and find out for yourself. We all have our ‘go-to” techniques. However, early spring is a really weird time of year to fish. One thing I always try and do is switch it up. I evaluate what the water clarity is, the wind direction, the amount of sun, and my best judgement of where the fish may be. I have a few lures that I am determined will always catch fish but sometimes you have to switch it up.

  1. Talk to the Locals- A lot of people tend to go to the internet and search for what lures work best for that time of year. However, a lot of the advice that is given could be for fish that are in total different area than where you live. Get in with the locals. This is one of the best pieces of advice I can give. As I continue to fish new areas and spots, I always try to stop by and say hello to other fisherman fishing around me. I want to see if they have had success and what they used to achieve success. I tend to always ask the same 3 questions. What fish are usually biting in this area? What are people using to catch that fish? And what time of day are they usually hitting? These 3 questions usually give me a good understanding of what’s going on in the area and it helps me make a judgment call of my own.

As spring quickly approaches its best to just get out and get a line in the water. You don't need to wait until water temps hit the high 50s or for it to be a sunny 60 degree day. Find the areas near you that are catching fish and take a swing. You never know, your biggest of the season could be now!

1 comment

  • Just my 2 cents but I almost always cast upstream and let a light weight jig bounce back to me. I find it harder to keep the jig pinned to the ground when u cast downstream and retrieve against the current. Most bites I get when finesse fishing the bottom come on the pause. Hope this helps!

    Paul Sahs

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