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Ideas For Early Season Fishing Success

By Bob Jensen - March 29, 2016
More and more, anglers are getting on and in the water. Some folks are fishing from boats, some are wading, and some are fishing from docks or shore. Some anglers are catching fish, some aren't catching too much. If you'll be fishing in the next couple of weeks, keep these fishing thoughts in mind.

Early in the season it pays big dividends to understand a little bit about the fish you're chasing. In the Midwest you can chase several species of fish on the same body of water. Depending on where you live, keep in mind that, right now, northern pike have probably completed spawning or are at least close to doing so, walleyes are probably spawning, and bass and panfish are getting ready to spawn. While you might want to catch walleyes, you will be better off trying for pike or panfish. When fish are spawning, that's what they have on their mind. They aren't real interested in eating, so, although some males might be willing to take your bait, if you want to feel a tug on your line, you will increase your chances for that if you try for pike or panfish.

Also, keep in mind that the water is still pretty cool, and many fish don't want to chase a bait in cold water. A slow presentation will often be best. If walleyes are the target, try crawling a stand-up Fire-Ball jig tipped with a minnow across the bottom. Give it plenty of stops as you drag it. The stand-up head is better this time of year, as it "stand up" when you stop it. The fish can see the minnow better with the stand-up head, which increases your odds for getting bit.

Same thing is true for most other species. A spinnerbait that's retrieved slowly will be good for pike, but an Impulse Jerk Minnow will be even better. These baits can be retrieved slower than the spinnerbait, and the pike like that. So do most bass.

When crappies are the target, try a small minnow under a slip-bobber. The slip-bobber will allow you to suspend a bait at a certain level, and that's a big deal this time of year. You'll need to experiment a bit to determine what the proper level is, but once you do, you'll be able to get fish to bite that may have gone uncaught. Remember that most fish see up better than they see down, so set your bobber stop so the bait is at the fish's eye-level or just a tad higher. Baits that are below a fish rarely get eaten.

When you're fishing with a slip-bobber for panfish, remember that because the bait is almost motionless, the fish are going to be able to get a good look at it. Many anglers go with less visible line to reduce the chances of spooking the fish. Also tiny jigs perform better on light line. Four pound test Sunline Super Natural is a very good choice. It handles well and the fish have a hard time seeing it. If the ultimate in invisibility is your goal, go with Super FC Sniper. This stuff is as good as it gets.

Keep these ideas in mind and you'll increase your chances for early season fishing success.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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