Tips for Fishing in Early Spring | Outside

GREG WAGNER Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Early spring fishing time is fast approaching or may have already arrived.

Daryl Bauer, fishing outreach program manager at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, has some tips to help anglers fish in early spring in Nebraska as the waters begin to warm up.

Fish for cold water fish: It means trout. Stocked trout fishing is a great way to introduce children to fishing, as simple and inexpensive equipment can be used. A light or medium action rod or reel combo with a #6 or #8 hook baited with a few brightly colored bites of commercial paste bait works well. Add a split shot 1 ½ feet above the hook and fish just above the bottom. If necessary, carry a small bobber and place it a few feet above the split shot. Worms, salmon roe, corn, teaspoons, teaspoons, and artificial flies can also catch trout.

Some reproduce: Bauer says northern pike, yellow perch, sauger and walleye spawn soon after the ice disappears. “Look for them on or near their spawning habitat. This includes shallows with flooded or aquatic vegetation for pike and perch, murky rivers or channels with gravel substrates and moderate flow for sauger, and rocky dam faces, points and ridges. depressions near walleye dams on most reservoirs.

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Target Catfish: As the ice breaks, baitfish that have died under the winter ice are blown inshore, readily available to channel catfish. Look for catfish feeding along these windswept shores, especially on a warm afternoon immediately after a few days of steadily rising temperatures.

Think “hot” for other sport fish species: “Any area where the water can warm up a few degrees can be a key spot,” says Bauer. Look for sheltered bays and coves with darker bottoms; watch out for south-facing shores and corners where the afternoon sun can warm the water. Look for shelter such as brush piles or beaver lodges in these protected areas. Small waters heat up faster than large bodies. Fish on sunny afternoons when the water has had a chance to warm up for a few hours.

Fish slowly: “Generally you want to fish slowly or drift fish with your presentation because the water is relatively cold and the fish aren’t active yet,” says Bauer. He recommends adopting an ice fishing attitude to catch bluegills, crappie and largemouth bass and fish late in the day. Also, fish vertically to give fish a chance to react to your bait, especially if they don’t seem to be active. To catch crappie and bluegill, Bauer says nothing is simpler or more effective than using a float, split shot, light hook and small minnow — where permitted. If you can’t use minnows, try a lighter colored jig.

Keep moving: In early spring, game fish can be found in different places on different days along the same shoreline, so keep moving. Bauer says this approach helps professional tournament bass anglers, as well as those of us who enjoy sport fishing, catch fish.

Be prepared for weather changes: Bauer encourages planning your fishing trips around warming trends and stable weather conditions for best success. “Expect (the fish) to fall back into deeper water when the weather turns cold again and the winds howl,” he says.

Get information on fishing regulations and public waters by reading the 2022 Nebraska Fishing Guide, available at outdoornebraska.gov/guides or wherever fishing licenses are sold.


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