The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and if you’re lucky, the bite is on. Springtime fishing makes an excellent escape from the daily grind and is a social-distancing-approved pastime.
If you decide to set out with your bait or fly rod in search of sport or even a tasty dinner, it’s important to understand how fish behaviors change during the spring. Differences in water temperature and clarity can make catching certain species easier than others. Here are the best fish to go for if you want to have a successful outing.
These curiously named fish make their way out of fall spawning grounds during the spring. That can make them a best-bet for anglers, as they tend to congregate in shallow, low-current zones.
Walleye notice colored lures well, and are also one of the few fish that respond to attractants. Choose something in a bright red hue and apply a little lure enhancer for your best odds with these fish. Want to cook them? You can’t go wrong with simply dipping them in batter and throwing them on the frying pan.
2. Smallmouth Bass
Perhaps the single best-known sportfish in North America, the smallmouth bass is a famous fighter that comes with the additional benefit of tasting delicious when fried or cooked on the grill. We recommend using the foil-wrap method and throwing some butter, lemongrass and thyme in along with the usual salt and pepper for a quick and tasty meal.
Unlike the larger walleye, these fish aren’t particular to what color your bait is. Instead, they respond more to vibration. Use a weighted blade bait to achieve the vibrating behavior bass love. A sturdy rod is helpful to jerk the bait off the bottom on occasion, which will make bass pay notice and strike.
People do eat these, but make sure you check your state laws before you keep any. Some states, like Vermont, don’t allow that until mid-June.
3. Rainbow Trout
Trout is a perennial favorite sport fish, but catching them in the spring may require you to change your tactics. For best results, fish later in the day when the sun is high. Field and Stream pro fisherman Gary Edwards recommends using a 4-inch yarn fly called Maciag’s yarn worm, bounced through a slow current.
Trout are absolutely delicious and one of my favorites to cook. Smoked trout is one of the finer dishes in all seafood, and it’s simple enough to make in your own backyard.
During the early spring, when some fish are persnickety, catfish are as hungry as ever.
That makes them easy to catch and a great fish for new anglers to hone their skills on. They are also quite a lot of fun for more seasoned fishers, and their strike can be more subtle than other fish. One of the hardest parts about catching them is finding where to fish. Once you get some, there’s nothing like Cajun fried catfish to end your day.
5. Largemouth Bass
The other popular bass varietal tends to gravitate to clearer water in the springtime, when snowmelt can kick up grime and make your bait hard to see.
Largemouth bass can be enticed by a weighted bait fished off-bottom in areas of greater visibility. Try to scrape your bait against rocks and structures to get it noticed, but don’t get snagged.
Reel Them in This Spring
Even the best fishermen have bad days at times. We encourage you to consider the old saying “a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.” For a head start on finding the best locations and techniques to catch fish during the early spring check out Fishidy’s maps.