Every year after ice-out occurs, anglers start to get a little antsy. Spring is definitely settling in and cabin fever is raging. Without a doubt, outdoor enthusiasts are looking for something to do.
One of the favorite spring activities across Minnesota is the quest for early, shallow water panfish. Not only does it get us focused on open water and summer, it also helps work the bugs out of the boating routine and forces us to review our open water procedures. And yes, hopefully we can catch a fish or two in the process.
When it comes to this early panfish season, I have some tactics I have put to use over the years. There is nothing complex to share, only basic spring strategies that need to be kept in mind.
First of all, the early panfish migration to shallow water is all about food. The panfish are searching for a source of invertebrates that will fill their bellies. The female panfish are also giving their eggs one last shot of nutrients to help them fully develop before spawning begins.
Water temperature is the key but so is a mud bottom that is home to invertebrates. The warmer the water, the more active the mud-oriented invertebrates will be.
It is imperative that anglers search out areas that have the warmest water. This usually means some type of bay, channel or backwater that is somewhat disconnected from the main part of the lake.
I always choose my lakes carefully during this early season. Some lakes that are primarily round don’t have a disconnected section of the lake that is going to warm up quickly. The best thing to do here is focus on the north shore and around bulrushes that will absorb a little extra heat from the sun.
Occasionally, I have had successful fishing with water temps in the mid-forties. However, I usually find that the low fifties are much more conducive to increased invertebrate activity.
Clear water is harder to fish than stained water as it warms up slower. Fish are also very spooky in clear water.
One last note. You don’t necessarily need a boat as there are numerous locations to fish from shore in the spring.
This is the opinion of outdoors columnist Jerry Carlson. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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