By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Isn’t spring in Wisconsin interesting – frustrating, maddening and beautiful!
The warm weather that followed early ice out this year created the urge to get fishing tackle ready for the coming seasons.
The crappies were heading to their spawning beds and for several days it looked like we would have a constant pattern and we were finding them in shallow water. All of a sudden a cold front blew in and the crappies moved out.
Each year we hope this will be the year that once the crappies start biting they will continue until the spawning process is complete. Several publications that I regularly read claim that 52 degrees is ideal for crappie spawning to continue. Most anglers are aware that the body temperature of the fish swimming in our lakes is the same as the water temperature.
Minnows are probably the most popular bait used for crappies. I choose to use plastic or pinkies.
Blue gills spawn in water that is a bit warmer than that preferred by crappies. When the ice goes out in our area the perch are the first to spawn.
If you are looking for warmer water you might want to head for the shallow bays on lakes with darker water.
Every year I recommend that anglers make sure their boats, trailers and fishing gear have been inspected to prevent problems when the boats are put in the water for the first time. Trailer lights always seem to need our attention. If the electrical plug on the boat trailer or the tow vehicle has corrosion on it a small wire brush such as that used to clean rifles will remove the corrosion.
This year our project of putting the boat that we keep at the dock in the water was very uneventful and didn’t take long at all. That is in comparison to last year when we had a series of mishaps. Last year we really weren’t prepared! Some readers may remember the story that began with us arriving at the boat landing without the boots needed to get the boat off the trailer. Then we discovered that we didn’t have a life jacket so back to the house we went for these two items. After returning to the boat landing we pushed the boat off the trailer only to find, after numerous attempts to start the motor that the kill switch was not in place. The motor would never start without it in place. That required another trip to the house to search for it. We eventually did succeed in getting the boat back to the dock.
This year launching the boat was easy but the crappies weren’t hungry that day. It was Tuesday when we got the boat securely onto the boat lift just in time to have it covered with snow that fell Wednesday night and most of Thursday. That didn’t help the crappie bite or my interest in going fishing.
With the winds we have had this year some of the boat landings have suffered some damage. Prior to pushing the boat off the trailer you may want to check for any foreign materials that have been pushed into or near the boat landing.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that spending a few minutes emptying live wells and removing plants that have caught on anchors and trailers plays an important part in controlling the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Angers are also encouraged not to dump unused live bait into the water of the lake they have been fishing.
“Our research shows that many of the most concerning invaders are being successfully kept out of the majority of lakes,” said DNR AIS coordinator Bob Wakeman. “For example, 90 percent of our lakes remain free of zebra mussels and 75 percent of our lakes remain free of Eurasian water milfoil. With continued vigilance, we hope to prevent the spread of these and other invasives, which will allow for greater focus on eradication of some species where possible.”
It was interesting to note that while spending time in Texas this winter we frequently saw signs, including billboards, that emphasize “Drain, Clean, Dry,” referring to controlling the spread of AIS. Obviously this is a larger problem than just in Wisconsin. For more information about AIS visit the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov.
We are hoping that we will start to see some families of geese before too long. We are now seeing numerous pairs of geese on the waters of our lakes.
My turkey season begins this week. Again our hunt will be in the Osseo area with my hunting and fishing partner, Tom Twesme, the Osseo Jinx. Hopefully there will be some success stories to relate in two weeks. Good luck to others who are also hunting turkeys.
This weekend also marks the opening of the open water fishing season. Our hope is that the weather patterns will settle down and provide good fishing conditions for all those anglers who have been anxiously awaiting the season opener. Of course we also hope that the fish of your choice will be cooperative. Good luck.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.