High water levels will impact fishing opener
Spring activities kick into high gear this weekend
The lull in the outdoor recreational season, the time between the finale of winter sports and the start of spring activities, is about to come to an official end this weekend with the opening of fishing season. That lull time was made more so this season by a string of dreary days of chill rain that dominated the month of April. It did not encourage one to spend time out of doors.
That all changed this week with both the arrival of some warmer weather as well as the fishing opening. The opener may not have the impact that it did years ago but it is still a harbinger of spring and legions of anglers will be out, come hell or high water.
The latter part of that old line, the high water, will be a dominant feature of the fishing landscape this weekend and for the foreseeable future. We had a lot of rain this spring and all lakes and rivers show the effects. Water levels are higher than they’ve been in ages. That impacts a couple of things.
First off, rivers are swollen and in many cases over the banks. And the water is moving very fast and strong. This makes for very challenging conditions in terms of basic safety. Things can happen fast with strong current and we’d be cautious about any fast moving water. Trout fishing, which is done often in just those conditions, may well be a bust until water levels subside.
On lakes things will not be the same as last year; there is simply a lot more water that has altered the lakescape. This is especially true on flowages. Water levels there can vary a lot but most of them this week were full and holding a lot more water than usual. That means areas that were easily, and productively fished last year are too deep this time around. Anglers will need to be flexible and keep moving for find the best water.
Opening day is most often built around walleyes. This year one would expect that they have moved off the shallows post-spawn. Mid depths over emerging weeds is always a good bet. But keep in mind water temperatures remain cool and smaller, slow moving jigs and artificials will work best.
Crappie fishing has been the mainstay of panfish and dependent entirely on weather. That’s the good news as this weekend the warming temperatures should move crappies to shallower water. Same is true with northern pike; look for the shallows and early weeds.
Shallow bays over dark lake bottoms warm up earlier and are always a good place for early season anglers. All in all the warming weather will be a welcome jump start for the season and while northerly winds and a cold front will slow things this weekend the week ahead looks very promising.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.