Barbs and Backlashes

Spring is Moving On by Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
April 29, 2009, 8:54 am
Filed under: Fishing | Tags: , , , , ,

I know it is still coming by “fits and starts,” but spring is advancing.  Fishing reports are starting to pick up and that will just get better in the coming weeks.  This is one of those periods where a person should spend every second possible enjoying our great outdoors — the turkeys are gobbling, the mushrooms are popping and the fish are biting.  Where to start?

One thing to keep in mind right now is the white bass spawning run is starting.  White bass can be found in a number of waters across Nebraska.  Traditionally, the Republican River reservoirs and the Tri-County Reservoirs have been some of the best white bass fisheries.  The Republican River above Harlan County Reservoir has had one of the best white bass runs over the years and there is some water in the river to host that run again this year.  If flowing water is available, the white bass will move upstream.  Look for river barriers that will concentrate migrating fish (i.e. woody snags, sand and gravel bars).  On canal systems or reservoirs, inlets, outlets, and check dams are locations that will concentrate white bass.  If flowing waters are not available, look for white bass on wind-swept shorelines or points on the main body of the reservoir.

Some specific water bodies to check for white bass this spring would be Swanson, Red Willow, Medicine Creek, and Enders in addition to Harlan County Reservoir in the Republican basin; Sutherland, Maloney and Jeffrey on the Tri-County canal system; DeSoto in eastern Nebraska; Calamus and Sherman reservoirs in central Nebraska; and do not overlook Lewis and Clark in northeast Nebraska nor Minatare in the Nebraska panhandle.

While actively engaged in spawning, most species of fish can be almost impossible to catch.  Fortunately even when spawning activity is ongoing, there will be plenty of white bass in the vicinity that are not reproducing and will be catchable.  A variety of marabou and bucktail jigs will catch white bass or put your favorite twister tail, grub or shad body on a jig-head.  Use jigs just heavy enough to get down in the current and wind, but light enough to stay off the bottom and out of the snags.  Light colors, whites, yellows, chartreuses are usually good ones to start with, but experiment to see if the fish want something different.  Small silver or chrome crankbaits or a variety of small spoons and spinners will also catch white bass, and on those days where nothing seems to work, live minnows might save the day.

Hybrid striped bass or wipers are 99.9% sterile, but do not be surprised to encounter some wipers in the midst of the white bass.  Those fish can be caught on the same baits.

The walleye spawn is starting to wind down.  McConaughy has produced some huge fish up to 14 and even 15 pounds!  I am starting to hear some post-spawn walleye reports, most recently from Sherman Reservoir.  When walleyes finish spawning in our reservoirs they will scatter looking for a variety of prey.  Walleye anglers should expect to cover a lot of water right now to find those fish and may catch a fish or two here and a fish or two there using a variety of tactics.  As a general rule of thumb, I would say to look shallow before you look deep for walleyes right now because the shallows will tend to be warmer and will more likely contain the prey the walleyes are seeking.  Tossing jigs and crankbaits in the shallows, especially where the wind is blowing in, would be good tactics to find some roaming walleyes.  Anglers will also start picking up fish on the traditional livebait and spinner rigs while drifting or trolling flats or points, shallow or deep, cover it all until a fish or two is caught and a productive depth can be determined.  Trolling crankbaits would be another productive tactic to cover some water and zero-in on the productive areas and depths.

Crappies have been frequenting shallow, warmer water for several weeks now.  Those fish will move shallow soon after ice-out, but actually will not spawn until much later.  In most Nebraska waters, the crappie spawn is still a few days to a few weeks in the future.  Crappies love protected coves and bays and will be found in those areas now and may stay in the same areas from now until they finish spawning.  Crappies also love cover, especially woody cover; tossing a bobber and a minnow or small jigs in likely-looking spots should tell you really quick if they are present.

The warmer the water gets the more active bluegills and other sunfish will become.  It is not that bluegills cannot be caught in cold water, but the fishing will pick up as the water warms.  If you want to catch some bluegills right now, keep that in mind and look first in waters and places where the water may be a little warmer on a sunny afternoon.  I have seen schools of bluegills “basking” in the sun, just inches under the surface this time of year.  Bluegills are “sippers” and feed, sip, a variety of small prey items.  Small jigs tipped with just a piece of worm or nightcrawler will be a lot easier for even a big bluegill to suck in than the whole worm or nightcrawler.  Or consider tipping 1/32 oz. or lighter jigs, size 8 or smaller hooks with some of the artificial scent-impregnated baits that are available (e.g., PowerBaits, Gulp!, FoodSource).

Largemouth bass continue to be caught from a variety of Nebraska waters and I have heard more good reports in recent weeks.  Small waters, pits, ponds, and small reservoirs are still the best bet as those waters tend to warm a little faster and the bass become more active.  I expect male largemouth are going to start cruising spawning habitats soon, if they have not started already, and anglers can easily spot those fish in shallow clear water.  Bass fishing will get tougher as they progress toward the spawn, and anglers probably will have to start slowing down with jig or rubber-bait presentations.

It has also been warm enough and with recent runoff events fish are beginning to migrate up Nebraska’s rivers.  I have heard some of the first good reports from anglers targeting some river catfish in past week or two.  Of course channel catfish can be caught on a variety of baits, so it pays to experiment, but good old nightcrawlers can work very well this time of year.

Speaking of moving water; a few weeks back I mentioned that early spring was a good time to target some trout in our cold-water trout streams.  Once in awhile, my son and I take my own advice (wink, wink).

A nice trout taken from a Nebraska stream.

A nice trout taken from a Nebraska stream.



4 Comments so far
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Great stuff Daryl! Good luck in all of thee above!

Comment by Tim Barrett

I’m one of the anglers that thouroughly enjoy fishing the walleye spawn; however, I would definitely like to see a walleye season to help in the natural reproduction process. Minnesota has this season and you cannot catch walleye’s until May 10th, I know this would upset many anglers but it would vastly improve our walleye fishing throughout the state.

Comment by Patrick Hammack

[…] Spring is Moving On « Barbs and Backlashes […]

Pingback by The Blog Planet - What Are the Best Bass Fishing Techniques to Know

nice post 🙂

Comment by mark roselle

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