This is episode #2 of AnglingBuzz TV 2018.
This week on the Buzz, we’re bringing in legendary fishing guide, Tony Roach, to talk spring fishing tips and tactics. It’s been a late, late spring here in our neck of the woods, but the ice is melting and the fishing is going to be hot and heavy right from the start.
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.
Leech Lake — The BIG FISH Factory
Leech Lake is famous for being one of Minnesota’s premier walleye destinations. But it has much more than just walleyes to offer visiting anglers. Many people love to take advantage of the exceptional crappie and sunfish bite. Big black crappies can be found in the lake’s many wild rice lined bays. And if you’re looking for perch, check out the main lake shallow sand grass flats. Most anglers concentrate their efforts in the five to ten foot range.
Come opener the lake’s relatively-shallow flats, rocks, and points are high-probability spots offering plenty of eaters walleyes and good numbers of larger fish, too. For years Leech lake walleye anglers go-to presentation this time of year has been Shiner minnows, either jigging or rigging. But increasingly, artificials have come into play. Jigs with three or four inch paddle tails or shallow running cranks produce lots of fish. If there’s a good walleye chop this Opener, make sure to try shallow, I mean really shallow. Hungry walleyes will often chase baitfish up in the reeds and shallow rocks. We’re talking less than five feet of water.
Leech’s sleeper bite is definitely its incredible largemouth bass action. And for fans of scrappy bronzebacks, the catch rate has increased in resent years as the population seams to be expanding to new locations.
Looking ahead to the Minnesota Musky Opener on June 2nd, it’s hard to beat Leech for a shot at early season trophies.
Yes, no matter your favorite species, Leech Lake has it all.
Springtime Multi-Species Fishing Tackle
It’s spring of the year and fish are heading up into the shallows to gorge on bait and “do their deal”. This provides an excellent opportunity for multi-species anglers to capitalize on a flurry of different bites, using shallow water presentations to cover water quickly and trigger vicious bites.
– Rapala Original Floater – $7.69
– Rapala Husky Jerk – $5.89
– Rapala Down Deep Husky Jerk – $5.89
– VMC Spin Jig Curl Tail – $2.59
– Northland Thumper Crappie King – $2.99
– Northland Impulse Swim’N Grub – $3.99
– Puddle Jumpers – $3.99
– Northland Rippin’ Shad – $4.99
– Northland Fire-Ball Jig – $4.99
– Northland Sting’r Hook – $2.99
Jigs, Minnows & Plastics for Early Season Walleye
When it comes to jig fishing, the baits I use are about as diverse as the bodies of water I fish. One of my favorite go-to techniques is pitching a simple swimbait. It’s a dynamite presentation for pitching and ripping in a variety of different conditions, from shallow weeds to deep rocks and everything in between.
Cast it out and work it back to the boat by ripping just before the lure hits the bottom. This strategy works incredibly well for early season walleyes lurking in sparse weed cover.
Everyone knows that livebait gets bit, so why use plastics? The short answer: Efficiency.
If you’re fishing livebait, you’re limited in how your can present the bait. The more you rip, the more likely you’re going to pull the bait off the hook, leaving you with an undesirable presentation. With plastics, you can snap your jig through weeds and fish a lot more aggressively overall. It allows you to cover water more quickly, and you save a bunch of time re-rigging.
However, if you do need to slow down and fish livebait, we recommend using shorter shanked jigs or something with a blade that attracts fish from afar. Simply thread the shiner onto the jig head and work it slowly and methodically back to the boat.