There's still lots of ice-fishing left in the winter of 2009, but I've been doing some thinking about the upcoming open water season. Those of us who live in the Midwest have lots to look forward to when it comes to fishing.
I say it a lot, and I'm going to continue to say it: If you live in the Midwest, you have many outstanding fishing opportunities available to you. There are lots of rivers, lakes, reservoirs, flowages, ponds and streams that are full of fish within an easy and inexpensive drive of your home. Some of these water systems have lots of fish, some have big fish, and a good number of them have lots of big fish.
Action will start as soon as the ice goes out. In some areas of the Midwest you'll be able to fish for any species you want. Other areas protect some species until the spawn is over. If you're not sure what you can fish for, be sure to check.
Panfish are fair game in most areas right away, and they can be very susceptible to an angler shortly after ice-out. Try a tiny Gypsi Jig tipped with a Gulp! Maggot under a slip-bobber. If crappies or bluegills are present, they'll eat this presentation.
Walleyes and sauger are eating right now in most Midwest rivers, and the bite is going to get better as the water warms. Try a Fire-Ball jig with either a minnow or a PowerBait Power Minnow in the three inch size. Use a stinger hook with the minnow if the fish are being finicky. There are times when the stinger will up your catch substantially.
Be sure to consider color when it comes to fishing. Some anglers think that color doesn't matter, and sometimes it doesn't. If the fish are active and want to eat, they'll often take a bait regardless of color.
However, the fish aren't always active, and when they're not, color becomes a very important consideration. At times, a certain color will trigger more fish and bigger fish.
If you're in one of those situations where you've got a group of active fish in a small area, and they slow down, try a different color. Often if there's a school of fish in a small area and they're biting, they'll become conditioned to a particular color. Change colors and you'll probably catch a few more fish.
Make sure you have fresh line for your first fishing trip. Your line is the only thing connecting you to the fish: Make sure it's fresh. If you use a lot of jigs, Trilene Sensation is outstanding.
Don't' give up on the ice-fishing yet. Some of the best action of the year is still to come. However, when the ice goes away, don't wait too long to get a line in the water. The Midwest has the water, and that water has lots of fish. Be sure to take advantage of them as soon and as often as you can.