The changeable weather patterns have made our early season fishing on some of our local waters a bit of a challenge. This is an excellent time of year to be crappie fishing. With water temperatures in the upper 40s to lower 50s, these pan fish will be moving into shallow bays and backwaters with dark bottoms or submerged weeds and grass in search of the warmer water.

They will locate in and around bridge pylons, docks and fallen trees for cover; when it is sunny and bright out, they will locate higher in the water column, seeking that little extra warmth. This year things appear to be starting earlier than usual because of our mild winter. The traditional start of crappie movement coincides with the first bloom of lilacs.

Most of the fishing reports that I have been able to track down this past week have been about crappie activity. All the reports, like the one from Lake Delavan, were that the crappies were very active. Fishermen told of catching 100 to 150 in an afternoon, keeping a few for dinner and releasing the rest. The reports from the Fox Chain were, first, about the low water levels. Anyone heading out in a boat needs to be aware of the very low water.

But that being said, they were catching good numbers of crappie in a lot of the back channels in Pistakee Lake. The marinas were hot spots for steady action, with the best baits being small plastics suspended under a float.

The Skokie Lagoons reports were about the nice largemouth bass and northern pike caught while shore fishing in the northern pools, north of Tower Road. Anyone planning to head out to one of our river fisheries must be aware that they are all reporting low water levels. Caution is advised.

Last time I talked about getting gear ready for the upcoming season, and one area I neglected to mention was the safety gear on the boat. Check that life jackets are intact and will still fit all passengers; kids outgrow them in a hurry. Make sure the fire extinguisher is fully charged, and that for fishing on Lake Michigan the flare kit is not expired. Mine was expired, so I had to order a new kit. Hoping the weather continues to get warmer.

Until next time…keep a tight line.