What a period of change we are in now, as the ice is deteriorating on a daily basis on almost all lakes. The smaller lakes will open up earlier, along with any lakes with current. The lake ice is getting blacker each day, and some wind along with rain would complete this process.

Really, the timing of this is pretty much normal, and somewhat of a surprise because several weeks ago some were betting the ice wouldn’t be off the lakes until sometime in early May. Even if you wanted to get out on that ice, the shorelines are opening up and moving away from the shore, so anglers can’t get on the ice. The best bet: stay off and wait for open water.

Anglers turn their thoughts to open water at this point. The earliest open water fishing available to us is in the rivers. Walleye fishing isn’t open in the Wisconsin River until you journey down to Tomahawk. The other rivers, such as the Oconto, Menominee, Peshtigo, Wolf and Fox rivers, have good walleye runs each spring. A good number of guys travel down to them each spring for some really good walleye fishing. What a great way to get the rust off your tackle and boats.

We will get into the spring perch fishing on some area lakes as soon as the ice is gone. It seems to start each year earliest on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes. That has the fast-warming water because of the current and the darkness of the water. The fish will be in soon after the ice goes out, and use bays and shoreline cover for their spawn. This is easy fishing if you use light tackle and either worms or minnows in shallow water. In general, the north sides of lakes warm up first, and the backs of shallow bays. Evenings are best, because they provide the warmest water of each day. You’ll see numbers of boats in the bays, such as “the Bull Pen” on Yellow Birch Lake. Remember to release some of those egg-carrying females to spawn.

Then May 4 will come and the walleye season will open. Things now look like it will be an opener with spawning walleye throughout the area. Jig and minnow fishing on the shorelines in 3 to 10 feet of water is generally best for these openers. On the Chain, look for the current to provide some good fishing. The Wisconsin River west of Eagle River also can provide some satisfying fishing for post-spawn walleye moving back down the river to the Rainbow Flowage near St. Germain.

What a great time of year!

Good luck and good fishin’.