Here’s to another great season on the water

After a long winter the run of warm weather over the past week has been a welcome relief for everybody I think.
While we’re still likely a couple of weeks from full ice-out, we’re getting there.
My plan was to do some ice fishing over the past weekend, try to hunt down a big pike and maybe a lake trout or a crappie to eat but having not been out on the ice for a few weeks I wasn’t really on top of the ice conditions so I decided to stay home and put my ice gear away for another season.
I got some yard work done so when it is time to get in the boat around here, I can go!
For those of you who ice fish, putting your gear away properly now makes for an easy transition back on to the ice next winter. I like to make sure my portable shelter is fully dried out before tucking it away.
I also put a few dryer sheets inside of it to keep mice from wanting to live in it. I always use premium gas in my power auger which should stay in good shape if you treat it with some stabilizer and then run it through the motor for a few minutes.
Charge the batteries on your electronics and disconnect them from the battery. If you think of it, give them a charge at some point through the summer.
Finally, make sure all of your other tools for ice fishing are dried out and in good condition.
When you get the call from your buddy next winter who says the ice is good to go, you’ll be able to go.
While the walleye season is closed until the third Saturday in May, there are great fishing opportunities available for other species as soon as you can get the boat in the water.
Lake trout love cold water so they can be found much shallower for the first couple weeks of the season than they are all year and they are aggressive so fishing is usually good.
Trolling works well for covering water but “beer-can” fishing from shore with a dead cisco or strip of sucker belly meat works great as well and was always one of my favourite things to do.
Remember that using bait for trout is not permitted on all waters so check the regulations depending on where you’re fishing.
Smallmouth bass go almost dormant during the winter so when the ice leaves they turn on the activity level and are looking for food.
The first couple of weeks are probably the best time of the year to catch both big fish and numbers.
It can be feast or famine on some waters because these fish are schooled up in big numbers around deeper humps and points then move shallow and disperse before they spawn later in the spring.
If you can find one of the spots where they move up to disperse you can have amazing fishing. Suspending jerkbaits and minnow imitating soft plastics are best early in the year.
On some shallower lakes, smallmouths will head for the shallowest, warmest water they can find immediately after ice out so always keep that honest as well.
Big pike move shallow to spawn immediately after the ice goes out and offer some of the most exciting fishing of the year.
Sneaking around in shallow, weedy bays where you can barely get a boat is where you will find these fish and it’s not uncommon to see pike the size of a log laying up in less than two feet of water.
Cast past the fish with a soft plastic minnow imitator rigged weedless and slowly swim it in front of these big fish, then hang on! Quality sunglasses will help you spot the fish to cast to.
Open water is just about here folks. It’s an exciting time of year for us in Sunset Country; here’s to another great season on the water!