Here we are, on the cusp of another fishing season and we can’t wait for opening day this Saturday. 

The weather has been cold, just like last year, but this year more ice is gone from the lakes. Unlike last year, most small and mid-sized lakes (such as those on the Chain) are open this year. We would need some extended sun and strong wind this week to open the real big lakes, and at this point that likely won’t happen.

Nonetheless, we’ve got a lot to look forward to. The lakes and the lake systems are full of water with all that snow and rain. Water temperatures are cold, from the mid 30s to the very low 40s. Anglers will find a 1- to 3-degree temperature change from the lake basin to some shorelines, so check the water temps for the warmer water. That’s where the fish should be.

The opener will find walleyes spawning on those warmer shorelines on many lakes. As usual, jigs and minnows will be the best bait for these fish, with relatively small jig heads and fathead minnows. Evenings will be best, and look for shoreline cover to hold fish. Lighter lines and tackle will be more productive with these fish in the shallows. This weekend, anglers will probably find more male walleyes than females active.

The perch also will still be in the shallow water because of the cold nights and colder than usual temperatures. Look for the warmest temps you can find on the lakes, normally in the backs of darker shallow bays and on the northern sides of lakes. Don’t be afraid to fish very shallow with light tackle, and check for fallen trees and shallow cribs — good holding spots for these spawning perch. Sunny evenings will be the best time. Fish with worms or minnows. Fathead minnows will attract bigger fish than standard crappie minnows. 

Meanwhile, it is nice to see the waterfowl and song birds returning to the North Woods. The loons are back and it’s much noisier in the morning from all the bird calls. This is such a great time of year. The only bad thing this year is that most yards seem to be full of broken branches from the rain, ice and snow earlier this year.

What a great time of year! Hope for warmer weather for both the fish and for us.

Good luck and good fishin’.