Top Shore Spring Fishing Locations

With spring fishing in the air, thoughts of early-season 'eyes come to mind. Boat and tackle preparation is in full swing, with anglers anxious to get out for the spring bite. But what about anglers who doesn't own a boat? Or the person with only an hour of fishing time after work? Getting the boat ready might blow half his fishing time. Don't worry; this is the best time of year to hit the banks for early walleyes.

Lakes--If time and opportunity are limited, key on tributary rivers, one main structural element for spring shoreline walleyes. Tributaries don't have to be big; they can be as small as 3- to 5-foot-wide spring flows that dwindle in summer. Nearly any flow concentrates baitfish and has the potential to attract walleyes at this time of year.

Use simple techniques for fishing shallow flows, like casting jigs. Fish the lightest jighead that allows you to maintain occasional bottom contact as you swim, drop, lift, and pop the jig along bottom. Tip a plain jighead with a minnow, or substitute a 4-inch Berkley Power Minnow, which really shines at this time of year. Use soft plastics just as you would a jig-and-minnow combination. The big advantage is you won't have to carry or repeatedly dig your hand into a minnow bucket. Or if you prefer, cast minnowbaits such as Rapala Husky Jerks, using a fairly slow stop-and-go retrieve.

If you have the opportunity to explore other areas, another potential area is deep water (steep drop-offs) close to reed beds. Fish the outside edge of the reeds with a slipbobber rig tipped with a leech. It's a deadly spring technique that's generally overlooked.

Reservoirs--Reservoirs can be tricky in spring, or so most anglers believe. Yet they offer some of the best spring shore-fishing opportunities.

Tributary rivers play a role, just as in lakes. In addition, points with bottom changes, such as where shale meets rock, are key structural elements. These might seem impossible to reach without a boat, but if you don't mind walking, it can be done on foot.

Find points located in bays or coves off the main lake. Walk the shoreline and look for visible changes between rock, sand, gravel, and mud. These bottom transitions generally run out onto the submerged point, too. Fish these areas.

If the wind is blowing into or has recently blown into the bay, fish any mudlines formed along the points. Mudlines with warm, dirty water hold major fish populations in spring.

As in lakes, use basic spring techniques. Casting jigs and minnows works well. Casting cranks to transition areas along mudlines also produces. But don't forget a slipbobber for these areas. They can be great when mudlines have well-defined edges, or if there is no wind.

Rivers--Rivers generally offer more year-round shore fishing opportunities for walleyes than other bodies of water. Spring, however, is an incredible time for shoreline walleyes.

Currents drive the structures you are looking for. Ideally, find an eddy that lies near a shallow gravel flat. In spring, walleyes continually filter through such an eddy to move up onto the adjacent flat to spawn. During April in the North Country, such locations are generally loaded with males first, with females moving in a few weeks later. Find the right eddy at this time of year and catching fish becomes a numbers game.

The best eddies often lie in conjunction with wing dams and points. Virtually every point near a dam could hold fish at this time of year. The same goes for wing dams--especially those with adjacent shallow gravel flats.

A jig and minnow usually is the best bait for this situation. Match the weight of jig to the current; basically, you need just enough weight to find bottom yet allow the jig to drift along with the current, slowly sweeping your jig through the eddy, skipping along and tapping bottom. Tipping jigs with Power Minnows often works just as well as tipping with a minnow. Or, where the current is slow moving, slipbobbers work wonders.

Shore fishing is perhaps the most basic angling method, accessible to millions of anglers at minimal cost. With all the technology available today, shore fishing tends to be overlooked. Yet shore fishing for walleyes in spring can provide your best fishing memories of the year.

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