With spring in the air and the ice out on all area lakes, open water fishing has started for panfish on North Woods rivers and lakes.

There were a number of anglers with boats heading out on the Chain of Lakes Saturday looking for perch and crappies, but fewer on Sunday when the rain started. 

The Chain has dark water and quickly attracts the perch to the shallows to spawn. That pattern is nearly complete. Other lakes are usually behind the Chain, so anglers can move to other bodies of water to find these spawning perch. 

In a general sense, the deeper and bigger the lake, the slower the ice-out goes and the colder the water temperatures will be. All of this spawning happens, of course, in the absence of a cold front or snow. 

Crappie minnows or small fathead minnows are best for perch, rigged on a single hook or small jig. Remember to leave a few spawners for the future. 

After the perch spawn, it doesn’t take long for the male walleyes to show up in the shallow water on the Chain and other small lakes — and that is happening now. Once the walleye get spawned out, they then move out to deeper water to recover.

If angers are lucky, walleyes will move back after a week or so to feed in shallower water in the developing weeds by opening day of game fishing on May 1. This can produce great fishing on the opener, although it is earlier than normal this year. Usually the smaller males will be the first to feed again.

After the perch and walleyes in the spawning parade come the crappies, which can be pretty easy to catch in the spring. Crappies will use the same structure as  the perch and usually stay a little longer in the shallows. Look especially for old weeds, bullrushes, downed trees or brush piles for the crappies. Small  minnows on a gold hook or a small jig work well for spring crappies.

Anglers have a lot to look forward to when it comes to fishing in the spring as there are always fish to find in the shallows. 

Good luck and good fishin’.