With the ice having gone out almost everywhere, open water fishing has started. There were a number of anglers with boats heading out on the Chain of Lakes last weekend. 

The Chain has dark water and quickly attracts the perch to these shallows as the ice goes out every spring. That pattern has started, but it will be a quick process. This means that best spring perch fishing will be done soon, as it only lasts for a week or so. Other lakes are usually behind the Chain, so you can move to other lakes 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 happens, of course, in the absence of a cold front or snow.

After the perch spawn, it doesn’t take long for the male walleyes to show up in the shallow water on the Chain. It seems a little early this year, but this train of spawning fish doesn’t slow down much all spring. Our hope in early April is that the walleye will get spawned out quickly and then move out to deeper water to recover. If we are lucky, they’ll do this and move back after a week or so to feed in shallower water in the developing weeds by opening day. This can produce great fishing on the opener, although it is earlier than normal (May 1) this year. As always, the smaller males will go on this feed earlier than the bigger females.

Northerns also spawn during this period, although they are not as obvious as the perch and walleyes. Northerns can be caught on minnows, but also artificials such as Doctors, Spoons or Daredevils retrieved slowly in the developing weeds.

After the northerns in the spawning parade come the crappies, which can be great fun in the spring. Use the same tactics as you do with the perch (minnows) for these fish. They use the same structure as  the perch, and usually stay a little longer in the shallows. Look especially for bullrushes, downed trees or brush piles for the crappies.

We have so much to look forward to when it comes to fishing at this time of the year. There are always fish to find in the shallows during the spring.

Good luck and good fishin’.