Warmer weather heats up fishing

After the long winter we experienced this year, the nice weather across Northwestern Ontario over the past week sure has been a pleasure.
Hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come over the next few months.
As water temperatures have increased rapidly over the past week, so has the fishing action for most species as the warmer water has improved activity levels and brought more fish into shallower water where anglers have easier access to them.
I never freeze any fish so it had been nearly two months since I last ate fresh walleye after a late March ice-fishing trip. After being out of town for opening weekend, the first fishing activity for me last week was to get out and catch a few walleyes for dinner.
My girlfriend, Shelby, and our neighbours went out one evening and caught enough fish for a small feast. It was a great night.
We caught our walleyes fishing jigs in shallow water, between six and 10 feet. We tipped our jigs with both live minnows as well as soft plastics, and each put fish in the boat for us.
We fished a shallow bay on Lake of the Woods, and we were fishing little coves and flats where I know that nice cabbage weeds will grow up later in the summer.
While we can’t see the weeds yet, we could feel them with our jigs. These new-growth weed clumps are magnets for early-season walleyes.
Since they just finished up spawning, walleyes seem like they are a little bit lazy–but they are hungry and can be caught.
The reason they like the fresh weeds is because they provide a little bit of cover and attract plenty of baitfish for walleyes to eat.
Look for the walleye bite to improve as the water continues to warm up.
The warming water has brought crappies into the shallows across the region, as well, where they will spend the next few weeks. They spend the rest of the year in deeper water but come shallow in the spring to spawn around reeds, docks, and any wood in two-five feet of water.
They actually make a small nest and protect it much like a bass but where you find one, there likely will be a bunch more.
If you are fortunate to have a bright day with little wind where it is easy to see, the best way to find crappies is to put on a pair of good polarized sunglasses and troll around shallow cover, visually looking for these fish (they blend into the bottom pretty well so the sunglasses are key).
Once you see a few of them, you’ll get an eye for spotting them.
When it comes to catching crappies, you can cast light hair jigs or jigs tipped with small plastic tails and swim them through the groups of fish or rig up one of these small jigs under a slip bobber and pitch it around where schools of crappies are hanging out.
The benefit of a bobber is it will hang the bait right in the crappies’ face and keep it from getting hung up on the bottom.
Some days the bobber works better; other days, swimming the jigs works better.
On the small lake that I live on, I noticed some bass have made nests around my dock over the past few days so they are gearing up to start spawning, as well.
While they are fun to catch when they are guarding their nests, anglers should know that when they pull a bass off of its nest, small perch and sunfish will invade the nest and eat the eggs, so it’s not a bad idea to leave them alone for a couple of weeks and if you do catch them, get them back in the water as quick as possible.
Not all bass spawn at the same time so you still can catch plenty of fish just fishing, as well.
As the water continues to warm, fish are going to start moving towards summer locations, so be open-minded when you go fishing.
And if you aren’t catching anything, don’t be afraid to keep looking around until you find some “biters.”