Springtime Fishing Opportunities!
The spring fishing season brings along some of the best fishing bites of the year! The bone dry rivers begin to fill up and the fish begin to move around, getting ready to spawn. During this time anglers from all over participate in a wide variety of multi species fishing including walleye, carp, suckers, panfish, catfish and much more!including walleye, carp, suckers, panfish, catfish and much more! In this article I am going to showcase what species are the most fun and easy to target and showcase some of the methods I use to catch the most amount of fish.
Fox River Walleye Run
One of the best species to target during this time is walleye, which are especially easy to target because they spawn during the springtime. During this time the walleye are super fat and is usually a great time to catch that personal best trophy fish. The Fox river walleye run is a great example of this, but fishing it with no prior expertise can be challenging. To fish the Fox river walleye run you will need a nice pair of waiters that hopefully don’t have any holes. Over the years of fishing walleye runs I have had many bad experiences with waiters leaking which results in an unpleasant fishing experience, so make sure your waiters are watertight. Many different anglers swear by the use of certain baits over others but overall using the combination of crankbaits both shallow and mid diving work the best. One of my all time favorites is a Rapala rippin rap, there are many different colors but one that I love and have had lots of success with is firetiger! Another necessity when fishing any walleye run is a good quality headlamp! Most of the walleye I have landed during the Fox river walleye run have been at night so having a headlamp is a necessity. Also when fishing walleye runs like the Fox river there are hundreds of other anglers looking to do the same thing so getting tangled with other anglers is unavoidable. When fishing from the bank you are very often going to be fishing within 5-10 feet from others or even closer. When I went to the Fox river one of the biggest delays was getting untangled from others on the dock or in the water. You need to know that constantly having to cut your line and retie your lure on is going to be a common phenomenon; So please don’t get frustrated when others cross your line because it happens to everyone and is frankly unavoidable. It is also important to know that you should always be fishing in regard with the regulations and laws at all times. It has been reported that the game wardens will dress up like fishermen and even fish with the fisherman to make sure everyone is following the laws. Overall I know that this kind of fishing sounds like a cluster fest, but fishing walleye runs like the Fox river can allow you to bag a monster walleye.
Other Walleye Runs
Besides the Fox river walleye run there are similar walleye runs throughout the states. In Minnesota, rivers such as the Minnesota river, Mississippi river and even the Crow river have walleye runs. Although they may not be as big as the Fox river walleye run you can still succeed in bagging a trophy catch! I personally have spent many hours fishing the Minnesota walleye run and I have succeeded in catching many big walleye just fishing from the bank! The great thing about walleye runs on rivers is that you don’t need a boat, although having one may boost your success it's not a necessary ingredient to catch a monster. The biggest walleye that I have landed from the shore is 29.5 inches and I also have landed many more around that same length. In addition to walleye I have also caught a variety of other species such as highfin suckers and even white bass in the process of targeting walleye!
(Logan Benkstein: 29.5" Walleye Minnesota River, 23" Walleye, 20" White Bass)
Although walleye tends to be a very popular species to target in the spring, fishing for panfish is just as popular! Many anglers like myself love springtime fishing for both crappie and bluegill. I have landed both my personal best bluegill and crappie during this time and many other anglers typically do as well! I personally like to stock my freezer up during this time because the fish are typically super fat and usually super aggressive when protecting their beds. Some of the best methods for targeting panfish during the spring time consist of a combination of casting, trolling and using bobbers. When casting for crappie and bluegill one of my favorite baits of all time is the Northland Tackle thumper jig. This bait comes in a variety of weight sizes, my personal favorite is the 1/16th oz size and my favorite color is the silver shiner. This type of jig does a great job of representing the look for a wounded baitfish which drives both crappie and bluegill nuts. As well as casting, this bait works really well for trolling. I have even caught my personal best crappie using this same bait while trolling! Not only do these baits work exceptionally well in the spring time they still work great in the summer! I have caught many five pound bass and even 23+ inch walleye while fishing for crappie in the summertime and it is one of my favorite small baits to use for finicky walleye. The final way of targeting crappie and bluegill which is by far the most popular and effective way is using a jig head under a slip bobber. On the jighead you can either attach a small plastic, a crappie minnow or a nightcrawler depending on what you want to catch. Typically if you throw a nightcrawler on you will be appealing more towards the bluegill and if you put a crappie minnow on you will be appealing more to the crappie.
Sucker and Catfish Fishing
Another really fun bite to get on during the spring is the sucker and catfish bite! Every spring thousands of carp, white sucker, redhorse sucker, silver sucker and catfish migrate up into small creeks and bunch up into big clusters by dams or waterfalls. I know many angler weep when talking about fishing for suckers especially carp but they are a blast to fight on small rods and is personally one of my favorite species to target during the springtime. I have landed carp pushing 20+ pounds on my medium action rods and have spent even up to 45 minutes battling a single fish! It's not only fun but a good way to get those arms in shape and ready for muskie fishing season that is just around the corner. Another bonus about fishing for suckers, especially white and redhorse suckers, is that you can stock up your freezer with them, for both catfish and muskie fishing throughout the summer! I personally hate having to buy big minnows for the sole purpose of just killing them and cutting them up, so being able to take advantage of the sucker run is a big financial advantage for me! I have also caught many muskie on the suckers that I catch during the spring time and have also caught my personal best flathead catfish on a piece of redhorse sucker.
Methods for Targeting Suckers
There are two different methods that I have found best for targeting suckers in the spring. The first method is using a common river fishing rig with a small octopus hook and a lead weight with a worm on it. This method by far works the best when fishing for white, silver and redhorse suckers. The second method works best for fishing for carp. When fishing for carp my favorite method involves rapidly casting and retrieving a 1/8th oz jig head with a twister tail on it. This method of fishing for carp is very fast paced and allows you to maximize the amount of fish you land. Another positive when using this method to catch carp is that you can usually catch a variety of other species ranging from walleye, big pike, big mouth buffalo and even big bass! **keep in mind fishing regulations**
Another one of my all time favorite fish to target not only in the spring but also in the summer is catfish! There are two different types of catfish found in both Wisconsin and Minnesota rivers, channel catfish and flathead catfish. Between the two flatheads are my favorite by a long shot. Flathead catfish are typically more aggressive during the spring time and are another species that you can target to change up the pace of your fishing. I have caught many catfish ranging from 5 pounds to 30 plus using bait that I have caught during the spring sucker spawn. My biggest catfish was caught on a piece of redhorse sucker that I caught in the springtime. It was an amazing catch and I don't know if I would have caught it without the use of the redhorse sucker.
(Logan Benkstein: 30 lbs. Flathead Catfish, 18 lbs. Carp)
Overall the springtime offers a very wide variety of fishing opportunities even though the main target species seasons are closed you can still get out, have fun and catch monsters while abiding by your local laws and regulations. Although many people do different things in the springtime I think a combination of both walleye fishing, sucker fishing and panfish fishing offers countless amounts of fun and opportunity to land your personal best fish. Furthermore, be safe, renew your fishing license, and explore and fish new bodies of water to find and unlock hidden honeyholes loaded with giant fish!
Author: Logan Benkstein