This time of year has always been exciting for me. The cold weather has finally given up (mostly) and it’s just nice to be outside. There are some fishing options still available and if you’re like most of us, you can probably find a bunch of jobs to do around the house as we transition from winter to summer.
Growing up my friends and I would ice fish as late into the season as we could, walking out on those last few trips. I don’t want to promote anybody doing anything reckless or irresponsible but the ice on some of the trout lakes takes a while to melt. Walleye season is now closed but the season remains open for pike and the late ice period is prime time for the biggest pike of the year. My friends and I would always go as a small group and we recognized when it was time to leave the machines on shore and walk. We never took any risks with the ice. Warm weather this week could result in the end of the ice season but if another cold snap hits you can probably still find a few fish to catch.
Sooner than later, boats ramps will start to open up and allow anglers to get out on the water. Again, fishing for most species is wide open through April and the first part of May, except for walleye, which have a closed season until the third Saturday in May. Some waters have species-specific regulations so always check with the regulations summary to make sure you don’t get yourself into trouble. Fish like bass and pike look for the warmest water in the shallow bays as soon as they open up. Growing up, we used to try and catch whatever we could as soon we could find open water. Sometimes it was bass or pike, other times we found crappie or lake trout. Many times, we didn’t catch much but it was just fun to get back in the boat after a long winter.
Let’s face it, most of us have work to do around the house this time of year. Especially if we want to spend more time fishing when the summer season really starts rolling. Have you put all of your ice fishing gear away? Make sure you dry out your shelters so they don’t attract mold. Run some fuel stabilizer through your gas augers if you are still running one. If you have moved on to an electric auger, make sure the batteries are charged before storing them for the summer. Same with the batteries for your electronics.
We have several beautiful white pines in our yard and while they are my favourite trees, they are messy. Even after cleaning up all the needles in the fall, there is always another round of needles to rake up in the spring. The best advice I can give you if you’re a home owner is to get as much work done around the house now so when the really nice weather arrives, it might be a little easier to go and have some fun.
Shed hunting, looking for fallen antlers from deer and moose, is another of my all-time favourite spring activities. While our deer numbers are pretty tough right now, many of the sheds will sit out there for years waiting to be picked up. Moose numbers are pretty good in some areas so an adventure into moose country could be successful if you can find a few antlers. It’s great exercise and can help you learn a lot about the areas you like to hunt in the fall. South facing hillsides are the best place to find sheds, but you can come across shed antlers on game trails as well.
Get outside and enjoy spring. We have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.