Springtime is the Right Time to Fish From Shore


As the days warm more and daylight periods increase our thoughts turn to open-water fishing. When ice finally leaves our lakes and the waters open, fishing gets serious. That is for many who fish from shore. If you are a shore-bound angler there can be little argument that the spring and fall months offer the best opportunities for success. Lacking a boat can be a hindrance during the summer when many species seek their comfort zones in deeper water not accessible to the shore fisherman. But this is not so in spring, and to a lesser extent, the fall. These two periods are when shallow waters beckon many species.

In fall, the cooling water temperatures of the shallows attract fish to feed prior to the cold-water period of winter. In spring, the shallow water warms the quickest and the food chain begins with the microscopic plants and animals to the newly emerging weed growth of the season.

Another big plus for the shore fishermen in spring is that many fish, like walleyes, bass and panfish, seek out shallower waters with suitable bottom content for the spawn. More fish are accessible to shore anglers in March and April than perhaps at any other time. Spring movements are not just random, and some areas provide better opportunities than others for action. But any type of available cover in these locations, either natural or man-made, will enhance their fish-attracting potential. Weeds, rocks, logs and fish cribs are especially attractive to a variety of fish now.

Northern bays in natural lakes receive a lot of sunlight and warm the quickest in spring. If the bays are off-color or have mud bottoms, they could be even better as far as numbers go. Boat channels off the main lake offer shallow-water feeding and even spawning opportunities if the bottom content is right. The presence of any piers, weeds and logs in these channels are a big bonus.

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Bridges crossing any main-lake area, tributary arm or backwater also hold potential for success. Any cover like the aforementioned logs trapped against the pillars, old pilings or concrete slabs or rock riprap, is a definite plus. Current in these areas also draw in more fish along with the fact that many species use rocky areas here to spawn.

Fishing piers can be great, especially if they’re located along northern shorelines or near some major structural element like a creek or point. Algae on pier posts attract small minnows and ultimately larger predators like the crappies, perch and bass. The shade offered by the piers can be another plus.

Main-lake points extending into the water offer several depth options and a natural migration route from deeper to shallower water. Any type of rocks along these point or weed beds, as well as a gravel bottom for spawning purposes, makes for an excellent shore-fishing spot. Ditches, backwaters and smaller tributaries to larger rivers are all potential hot spots too. Pike, bass and panfish seek out these areas for feeding and spawning purposes. All of these spots allow fish to get out of the current flow and to conserve their energy.

Farm ponds are perhaps the best of all spring locations to shore-fish. Most have extensive shallow-water areas that warm quickly, give ample cover, and often, have little fishing pressure. Large bass and panfish are other great reasons to search out farm ponds now. As virtually all of them are private, always ask permission from the owner or caretaker to fish. You just might be surprised by the answer if you take the time to ask. This is also good advice when fishing all of the previously mentioned locations, as you often will cross private property. If you don’t have permission, don’t even think about it—it’s just not worth the hassle. Try to shore-fish in the public areas and enjoy some of the best angling of the year this spring.