So much for winter – this was easily one of the shortest ice-fishing seasons on record. Summer has arrived and the time has come to move on to open water.

That water temperatures are way above normal for this early in the year probably comes as no surprise, what with the daytime highs we have been having and no real cool-down at night. Reports have been coming in of 70-80 degree water temperatures in some area ponds and small lakes where such temps are not usually seen until July.

The Illinois River at Starved Rock has been at 66 degrees. For a river with a constant current, that is really warm. The largemouth bass spawn takes place in most years in late April to early May in this area and mid-to late May in Wisconsin; we have reports of bass on spawning beds and large female bass being caught that have already laid their eggs . With spawning occurring this early and water temperatures this warm in March, this could be a really challenging year for fishing.

The reports from the Wolf River in Wisconsin say the walleyes have started spawning, so fishing has slowed there. Walleye and sauger are biting really well on the Illinois River at Starved Rock, however, as they have already spawned. Some other area fishing that is already turned on is that on Bangs Lake, where the crappie bite is being called “fantastic.” The bass are biting on Busse Lake close to shore around the island, and fishing slow with your bait will put some nice fish on the line. The down side right now is that most of the boat rentals on these bodies of water do not open until April 1.

On a different track, readers might remember a new Illinois State walleye record caught back in January by a young man on the Pecatonica River near Rockford mentioned in this column. Well, the record that had stood for nearly 30 years, lasted about 60 days. A fisherman on the Pecatonica River, again, certified a new Illinois State record walleye at 15 lb, 4 oz. It looks as if it’s going to get really crowded on that river this spring.

And here is one for the books: A fisherman in Arkansas brought in to the scales a new state record largemouth bass to be certified. As the DNR was going over the paper work they discovered that the angler had purchased his fishing license 3 hours after he caught the fish. He now no longer has a record fish, but he does have a $1000 fine and possibly 30 days in jail. Don’t forget to buy license before heading out – one just never knows.

Until next time … keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.