Spring fishing heats up

It took longer than most of us expected for the ice to leave area lakes this spring but we have pretty well caught back up with how much the water has warmed over the past week and a half. A stretch of warm days and nights raised the water temperatures significantly and has seemingly helped the fishing for most species of fish.
One of my favourite things about Sunset Country is all of the variety we have for different species to catch. It’s great if you simply like to be outside and catch fish or if you are a guide. If the walleyes aren’t biting, you can probably find some bass that are. In the spring, fishing is also great for crappies, lake trout and pike as well.
At this point the musky season, which opens on the third Saturday in June, is the only closed fishing season across NW Ontario.
I have been taking advantage of the nice weather recently, fishing quite a bit and catching a variety of species. The walleye fishing has really picked up after a slow start for me on the opening weekend. I have just been fishing shallow with soft plastics so I needed the warm up to get the baitfish to show up in the shallow coves where they walleye follow. Fishing has improved a lot over the past week.
Whenever we run into walleyes, we’re also catching bass and pike mixed in as they are also in these shallow, sandy areas chasing the perch and shiners congregating in these spots. I like small coves and if they have a beach, there is a good chance there will be a bunch of fish hanging around in four to ten feet of water. This is a pattern that works on waters across the region and is my favourite way to catch walleyes, something that I have learned a lot about over the past few years. Last year I caught walleyes in these shallow locations until well into July.
As far as baits go, small minnow imitating swimbaits are tough to beat. I have been using the Z-Man SwimmerZ bait and it’s been really good.
It has a nice swimming action, is a good size and just seems to catch fish. I typically put it on a ¼ ounce jig and I’m all set. Simply cast the bait out, let it sink to where it is a couple feet above the bottom and slowly reel it back to the boat. As you fish with these types of baits, you get a feel for where they are in the water column and where you are getting most of your bites.
If you use social media and follow anyone around the region who likes to fish, then you have probably seen photos of crappies popping up on these feeds. For a few weeks each spring, crappies rush to shallow water where they will spawn around pencil reeds and other cover likes trees or beaver houses.
A good pair of polarized sunglasses are the best tool to find crappies. I’ll usually put my trolling motor down and slowly sneak along shallow weed edges, looking for crappies sitting in the holes.
If you see one crappie, there is a good chance you have found several as they are usually found in schools. Once I find a few, I’ll start fishing with a small jig and plastic combo fished beneath a slip bobber. The bobber just allows you to hang the bait right in front of the crappies. It’s a unique opportunity because through the rest of the year, crappies are found in deeper water. They will remain in shallow water through the first week or two of June.
Next week we’ll take a look at early season pike and lake trout fishing, where to find them and what to tie on your line.