Spring is running well ahead of schedule here in the Great White North, with the second earliest ice out on Big Detroit Lake, just barely missing the earliest ice out ever recorder in 1910 by one day. For a little perspective, the average ice out date for Big Detroit Lakes is April 19. To say that spring came a little early this year is an understatement.
The arrival of warm temps and early ice out threw a little curve in my game. The key to spring fishing is water temperature, though the photo period does play a role in fish activity and spawning. Water temps have of coursed risen earlier than the normal and so begins the chase of running fish. A few early scouting runs didn't produce any results, though I was only off by a couple of days. Diligence this time of year pays off as a single day can bring in hordes of fish staging for the spawn. As is the case around here, seasonal stream closures in a few areas that are designed to protect vulnerable spawning game fish throw a wrench in my fishing hot spots, as these spots are sanctuaries for many sucker species in addition to northern pike and walleye. That's where being adept at using a Delorme Atlas & Gazetteer, Google maps and aerial photos can make the difference between being on fish and being shut out.
My timing was perfect; schools of suckers and no crowds. The advantage to being on the ball when scouting is beating the crowds to the punch. By the time the local brigade arrives, I've already had my fun playing out these staging suckers. The bonus of these stream closures is that since the suckers spawn after the walleyes, the closed areas provide a haven for these spawning suckers until the fishing opener arrives. A little relief from the spear chuckers and bowfishing crowd never hurt anything.
Trying not to foul hook a sucker when they are stacked up like cordwood can be a challenge. Every once in a while, even while I'm trying to be careful, you hook up with a trash fish... the bottom-feeding walleye.