Gone Fishin'! Ten Tips for Spring Fishing
Spring has (almost) sprung, and that means it's time for one of the best fishing seasons all year! In honor of our appearance at the 74th annual Fred Hall Show -- the biggest sportfishing convention in the world -- we're digging through our tackle box and dishing out our top ten tips for spring fishing season.
What's in season in early spring?
The early spring fishing season can be a tough sell -- but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Cold water, muddy hot spots, and fish still shaking off the chill of winter make the earliest part of the season an exercise in patience and perseverance.
During March and early April, many fishing seasons open around the country for specific species of fish. You can find things like catfish and trout in the rivers of the Northeast, rainbow trout and steelhead in the Great Lakes region, and all kinds of bass, perch, and bluegill in rivers and lakes that are still adjusting to post-winter overflow. Plus, it's a great season for saltwater monsters!
Because the warming air hasn't quite reached the depths of the chilly water, many fish during this early-early season are sluggish and slow to respond to bait. It takes a few simple tricks to attract these cold-water survivors, but trust us--you'll be glad you put in the work.
Which brings us to...
Ten Tips for Spring Fishing Season
- Dress right. This is a simple suggestion, but it plays a huge part in your spring fishing preparations--after all, the outfit makes the angler. Layers are key, especially in this season. If you'll be fly-fishing, rubber galoshes or other cover-ups are critical to keep you warm and (somewhat) dry. Having a spare change of clothes in the car is a great way to keep yourself from getting sick! (P.S. Tired of losing your sunnies to the ocean waves? Ours float!)
- Bust out the electronics. At this time of year, many fish are on the move as they move from their winter habitat to spring spawning grounds. This is why fish finders come in handy--you can spy fish on the move, and track them to the places they like to gather.
- Look for places where water flows over land. Colder weather, especially as it slowly starts to warm up, is a great time for fishing in waterways that only exist at this time of year. Ground melt from snowy mountains and hillsides runs downhill toward rivers, lakes, and the sea, picking up top soil and debris as it goes. This creates the trademark murky, brown water we see during the early spring, but it also creates new water flows that only exist for a few weeks. These nutrient-rich waters are practically highways for fish as they head to those spring spawning grounds, and they can be a gift for the early-spring angler.
- Drop a line to the bottom of a steep drop-off. Fish like to hang out in areas of transition--like underwater cliffs, sloping banks, and the shadowy areas beneath docks. To catch the biggest bottom feeders, try dropping a weighted line to the bottom of a particularly steep drop-off. These colder areas make the fish more sluggish, but they can also be places where the big boys feel safest.
- Find out what spawns in your area, and where. A few minutes of research can mark the difference between a day waiting for bites and a 100-pound catch. Identify not only WHAT likes to spawn in your area, but WHERE they're most likely to congregate. A river fisherman in Florida is going to have much different targets than someone in Rhode Island!
- Let it glow. Some of the biggest, tastiest fish like to hang out in murky, muddy waters where they feel safe. (Plus, you're dealing with that ground melt we mentioned.) A reflective or glow-in-the-dark lure can give you an edge when hunting for dark-water catches. The shiny lure looks extra tasty to big fish looking for reflective scales!
- Pack accordingly! A mix of flies, bobbers, weights, and lines will help you prepare for anything the post-winter weather throws at you.
- Cast as close as possible to the "new bank." No bank? No problem! Cold-weather fishing is all about working with disruption. As ice melts, rivers and lakes overflow their banks, creating "new banks" that cover rocks and bases of trees that stay dry in other seasons. You can use these to your advantage when fishing for clever hunters: drag your weight against smooth rocks to create a "ping" that fish will hone in on. It's a good way to convince the predator it's found prey--when it's really finding your hook!
- Go with the flow. Pay attention to the current--during early spring, the usual flow of rivers is often disrupted by ground melt. Fish hunting for a good spawning ground tend to congregate in areas with slower currents. If you're struggling in a spot that usually nets you a good day's catch, shift downstream a bit to somewhere the current is unusually slow. (This is especially helpful for big river dwellers like walleye.)
- Stay safe out there. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the basics of cold-weather water safety. If you're taking the boat out, be sure you're prepped with dry bags, warm blankets, emergency heating (like hand and foot warmers), and spare changes of clothes. Plus, a pair of polarized sunglasses will help reduce glare from water and ice!
We'd love to see your catches! Post your best spring fishing pics on Instagram -- wearing your favorite Bomber sunnies, of course! -- and don't forget to tag us (@bombereyewear).