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General Early Spring Tips

by Alissa Crankshaw March 17, 2016

Unless you’re a big fan of ice fishing, you’ve likely been cooped up all winter, waiting for the first chance to go fishing on the open water. Some anglers may wait for summer, but smart fishermen know that early spring is one of the best seasons for many fish species.

When the ice starts to melt in your area, you can take to the water and catch your fill of fish that are great for sport and the table.

Before we dive into the top freshwater species for early spring, let’s quickly review some general tips for early spring fishing. Each species is different, but these tips can help you start the season right.

  • Utilize live bait: Fish in early spring are hungry after a long winter, so their attraction to plump, tasty live bait is enhanced.
  • Fish warm afternoons: While morning is often seen as the best time for fishing, early spring fishing calls for sunny afternoons, when the water has had all day to warm up.
  • Slow it down: Fish are slower in spring, so you need to match their speed. From hook sets to lure retrieval, slow things down for greater success.
  • Go for smaller lures and tackle: Because of their sluggishness, spring fish may be reluctant to chase larger baits that resemble bigger, faster prey.

Ice-Out: Best Freshwater Species to Target in Early Spring


If you have one month to go out for catfish, March or April is probably the best option. After ice out, catfish feed on all the stuff that died over the winter. From crayfish to minnows to dead animals that sink to the bottom, catfish eat it all, and the early spring seems to be their most active time. There is more food for them to eat, so they feed aggressively on almost anything, including your bait.


In the cold, wet, and windy season just before the spawn, walleye fishing is at its best. When the ice starts to disappear, take to the rivers and throw crankbaits and plastic lures with twister tails. Walleyes are on the move; making their way from winter holes to spawning waters, usually shallow spots and tributaries. Called the “walleye run,” this period has walleye getting their last bit of food before the energy-consuming spawn.

Northern Pike

On lakes loaded with pike, you can often spot them basking in the early spring sun, soaking up warming rays while ice has barely melted. Catching pike in the early spring is not much different than catching them in summer, but you should use smaller spoons and spinnerbaits, and approach with more stealth, as many pike will be hanging out closer to the surface, which makes spooking them easy.


When early spring comes around and the snow starts to melt, the trout streams can get murky and muddy with runoff. The water may not look as picturesque as it does in other seasons, but it’s still a great time to catch trout. Instead of surface flies (which mimic hatched bugs) go for sinking flies that will move and dance like a worm or baitfish. Fish areas where the current is slowed by seams, eddies, and rock dams, and you should be catching trout in no time. 

The Perfect Fishing Apparel for Early Spring

You never know what you’ll get in early spring. From frigid chills to warm afternoons, we have the apparel you need for the entire season. Visit the online store from Huk and you’ll have the apparel you need for all of your early spring fishing adventures.

Alissa Crankshaw
Alissa Crankshaw

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