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The first chance at open water this spring will be coming soon, and the early fishing will be for bluegills and crappies. These two will be active shortly after the ice has gone and the sun has had a chance to begin warming the shallow waters in area lakes and ponds.

A lot of people are under the impression that the panfish move into the shallows to look for spawning areas, but in fact they move into the shallows and the new weed beds in search of food. The shallower back bays on the north end of the lakes will receive the most sun during the day, and therefore warm sooner than the rest of the lake. If they happen to have dark or black bottoms, the warming is even better, and that is where it is best to begin fishing. The fish love to dine on the small aquatic life and early insects in the warmer water after the long winter, and will be feeding in these bays in large numbers.

Fishing for these early-season arrivals requires some finesse and care. The large schools are available but are very skittish this time of year. Fishermen must keep their distance when casting off, or the fish will spook and scatter. This is a time for really long fishing rods – the longer the better.

A couple of rods are made just for this kind of fishing. They are 12 feet and 14 feet long and weigh just ounces, so one can fish with them all day without one’s arm falling off. The longer rod allows for the longer cast and allows one to pickup more slack line when there is a bite.

The best baits this time of year are small jigs tipped with plastic. Live bait is not yet necessary, because these fish are not interested in a meal the size of a minnow – they want the small aquatic life that is available.

It is worth giving this a try for some really first-class panfishing this spring. Until next time…keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.