Spring Movements: Walleye, Pike, Bass & Panfish

Smooth Moves


Spring is a time of new beginnings — for both fish and fishermen.
 

Following winter’s slumber, the entire food web comes to life again as days get longer and the waters warm: green weeds emerge almost overnight, tiny critters start flittering about, as do schools of minnows, with gamefish following suit.
 

Pike, panfish, walleye, and bass push into shallow waters where the buffet has finally opened, and the biological urge to spawn has also kicked in.
 

Warm, shallow bays, coves, creeks, and flats come to life with fish activity. Although dependent on water levels, river fish, too, often push very close to the bank.
 

This is all good news for anglers, as access to many fish species becomes easier than any other time of the year, and it doesn’t take a big boat to get in on the action.
 

In fact, sometimes shore anglers have the advantage in spring, whether casting from the bank, a dock, or working waters in waders. Today’s fishing kayaks and small watercraft can also get you into fish-filled places that are nearly impossible to access with a full-size rig.
 

Northern pike are one of the first fish to move shallow in spring, often before the ice has left the main lake.
 

It’s quite a sight: male and female pike migrating up narrow creeks, their backs often sticking out of the water, like squadrons of submarines slipping into slough-like coves and bays, fully-armed to feed and breed.
 

You’ve got a shot at giant pike in spring, whether fishing dead bait on bottom, or chunk-and-winding swimbaits or blades.
 

Not long after the pike procession, the panfish convention comes to town, presenting some of the very best bluegill and crappie action of the entire year. From simple float rigs to pitching tiny plastics, be prepared for lots of bites.
 

And while easy-pickings panfish used to mean buckets of meat, more anglers are releasing larger fish and practicing selective harvest; good news for the long-term sustainability of panfish waters in our region.
 

Walleye fishing can also get fast and furious. Moving waters that connect lakes and shallow flats to the first break-line are top locations. Jigging live bait or plastics is a springtime staple, but don’t overlook pitching or trolling cranks to find walleye in transition.
 

And bass? From big green fish to scrappy smallmouth, the getting can be great with fish localized in skinny waters—with fish typically visible to the naked eye.
 

From power fishing to finesse, there are countless ways to catch springtime bass, depending on their mood. Best to have a few rods on deck – from swim jigs to shallow-running cranks to creatures and wacky rigs, it all adds up to a whole lot of fun.
 

No matter your favorite species, NOW is the time for some of year’s best angling opportunities.

 
 

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