SPRING is coming! Now what to fish for?

It’s been a long long, LONG winter and finally you watch the long range forecast and see double digit temperatures in the near future.  The itch is hitting hard!  It’s that time of year to take out your gear and finally hit your favorite waterways, but in a lot of areas throughout North America the seasons for our more notable gamefish are still closed.  Here in Ontario on most waterways “for exceptions read the Ministry regulations” Trout season doesn’t open till the end of April, Walleye and Pike not till the middle of May, and for you Bass fishermen out there your patience will surely be tested with the opener being not till the end of June!  Fear not!  While you’re waiting for Trout opener at least there are plenty of options to test your fly game on.

Spring time is a time of plenty and a time to feed, and panfish follow this routine in every sense.  Congregating in the shallows, looking for nymphs, scuds, that first emergent hatch, worms, leeches.  The possibility of techniques and patterns at the fly fisher’s disposal are endless.  Spring panfishing offers great practice for the season to come, perfecting your nymphing technique, roll casting under brush for big crappie and bluegills, get that San Juan worm out after a spring rain runoff, toss out small clousers and other minnow mimic streamers for crappie pursuing schools of minnows in the shallows.  Can’t forget the classic wooly bugger or other small leech imitations, there are many situations spring panfish offer, and finding the pattern that works best can be a fun challenge for the first few outing of the year.

If streamside and rifles are more your preferred setting then there are a good number of course fish to target, many of which mimic the same feeding habits of trout, so targeting them would give you head start on perfecting your trout techniques before opener.  Creek chub, river chub, common shiners, dace, mooneye, and hefty fall fish offer great sport on light tackle and feed on the same foray as trout , nymphing, scuds, egg mimics, and other known trout techniques prove effective on such riverine species.  Those trout fishermen out there who’ve inadvertently hooked into a school of creek chub or fall0fish can attest to this, but after a long off season even a chunky 12” chub can be a welcome sight!

If bigger game is more your thing, or one chub outing was more than enough you can take, hit up that sucker run!  It’s a bit more challenging to get a sucker, a fish which relies more on scent for feeding , but a well-placed nymph or egg presentation can be tempting up.  For those fishermen up for the challenge the sucker run offers great sport as sucker are hard fighters, and offer an exciting early season outing, and if timed right like a hatch or the fall salmon run, you can find yourself wading a river absolutely stacked with suckers willing to bite!

If your game is more still-water bodies and you’ve already got over 100 sunfish and crappie under your belt, and want to test your gear on some big game hunting, then show some loving to the misunderstood Carp!  In fact lately carp have become a more popular quarry of the flyfisher, and there are many flies designed to target carp now.  Carp can be an absolute thrill to catch on the fly at any time of year.  They are built of absolute muscle and seeing a carp slurp your fly then take off on that first run as you set the hook is as exciting a moment of landing a trophy Salmon or other gamefish, as carp can easily strip a spool of line with the greatest as ease!  Targeting Carp in the shallow flats in spring is akin to casting to Bonefish or Redfish on the shallow sand flats in marine waters, and the fight is just as hard! There are other course fish to be had such as, Carp suckers, buffalo, channel cats, bullheads, sheepshead or freshwater drum, White bass,  all of which can be had on the fly with the right technique even though some are very scent oriented, making it all the more challenging and rewarding once you’ve found the winning pattern.

Bottom line; don’t sit idle while you’re waiting the gamefish to open, and definitely DON’T fish for any fish out of it’s designated season!  There are more than enough species to be had in our waters, and the challenge of catching something not normally known for fly fishing can be great sport in itself.  Simply get out there and enjoy the great outdoors!

PJ_Fallfish_Pro  SUckerPUNCH_Pro



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