It's now “interim time” for many anglers waiting for the return of the general fishing season to start in May, but other anglers are hard at it on local trout rivers, Lake Superior or traveling to distant walleye rivers where seasons are open.
A reminder that Wisconsin 2020 fishing licenses expired April 1, so don't forget to pick up a new 2021 license. It's also a good time to check on boat registrations and maybe get some maintenance completed.
Another good idea is to do some organizing and preparation work for the new fishing season. I like to dig out my gear and do inventory checks to know what needs to be replaced, etc. If you are in need of some new fishing gear, it's best to get it now as the pandemic has affected many avenues of the fishing industry. For example, we are holding onto our 2020 Lund for another year, knowing that we will not be able to receive a new one in time for guide season.
Although we have lots of administrative and maintenance duties to be completed, we are still finding time to stay on some fish. Here’s what's happening:
Lake Superior anglers were on a good salmon bite before the recent cold and windy weather showed up. A warmer, calmer forecast should mean a busy lake this weekend. As mentioned last week, if you plan to get out, you might want to think about getting to the launch early. Most productive baits will continue to be trolled near the surface. It's best to utilize something that resembles a smelt, both size and color. Smelt are getting closer to spawning, so stay tuned for that.
Offshore planer boards are still a good way to comb some water, but be careful not to get too close to other oncoming anglers. Also, even though stick baits have been showing success, you should still mix in a spoon or two for attraction. Especially bright, sunny days.
Stream fishing is off to a decent start for most anglers willing to submerge their waders and body into the cold running water. Fish have been reportedly taking small spoons, stonefly nymphs and X-legs. Finding fish is not necessarily a thing on the river as these fish are more or less on the move. Stick to a good spot and you will likely turn some fish.
Stream angling can mean long stretches with no fish, but magic can happen in a heartbeat. Those with the most patience will have the success. Remember to be courteous to other anglers as these rivers can be very busy this time of year.
The St. Louis River is on standby for the time being, but I do want to mention the ice is almost completely gone. The only places that are still holding a tiny bit of ice are the back bays. Look for some reports of early season open-water crappie fishing forthcoming, as well as some fun rough fish bites. Until then, we will be spending another weekend getting out of town and trying our luck at legal walleye fishing waters. Some very popular spots with good bites this last week have been the Rainy River, Fox River, Green Bay, Mississippi, etc. Make sure to check regulations if you plan on heading out of town to fish as not all fisheries have the same rules.
Inland lakes are also on standby for the time being until we are totally ice free here in the Northland. I forecast by next week we will be testing some early shore spots for springtime panfish.
Over the years I have collected a journal of good productive early fishing spots and can't wait to try them out as temperatures start to increase. Side note: I know I have mentioned it before, but if you're out and about, grab a trash bag and help clean up some litter.
Jarrid Houston of South Range is a fishing guide (houstonsguideservice.com) on Minnesota and Wisconsin inland waters, the St. Louis River and, in winter, on Lake Superior.