The ice fishing season in this area is finished. I can say this with a fair amount of certainty as the first day of spring officially arrives, but more importantly, I am getting fishing reports from all around the area from fellow fisherman out in their boats catching some really nice early walleyes. I am also hearing reports of fisherman looking for open ramps and docks so they can get in on the action.
There is still some ice around, which means care should be taken. Ice flows will be a cause of concern on these freshly opened lakes.
The best walleye bites will probably come on area rivers and streams. The walleye will be in a pre-spawn mindset, which means the males will be looking for prime spawning areas – protected, but with loose gravel and rocks. The females will be slower coming upstream, waiting for the spawning areas to be ready for them.
The bite this time of year should run from neutral to aggressive, and the best baits will be large minnows fished in the current of a river near structure that breaks the current. Structure can be as simple as a rock outcropping or a downed tree extending into the flow, or it can be something as large as a wing dam on the bigger rivers.
The fish will be lying just off the current flow, behind the cover, waiting for the bait to slide by where they can grab it. The perch bite (perch are related to walleye) is also good this time of year, and Mississippi River fishermen report that the perch are plentiful and aggressive. Again, live bait seems to be the preferred way to go.
Fishermen need to remember that on rivers, winter runoff and spring rains usually cause the currents to be stronger in spring. With increased current come varying water depths that can change quickly, especially on rivers with dams, like the Fox, Illinois, and Mississippi. Also, with strong current and spring runoff comes a lot of debris, some of it small but some of it quite sizeable (55-gallon drums, wooden crates, and tree limbs). This can really ruin a good day of fishing.
Until next time…keep a tight line.