Where to go when spring fishing is hot

Brad Kerr
Just Passin' Through
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There was a slight breeze out of the east as I slid my float tube into the waters of Pineview Reservoir that morning. I’d heard reports of crappie fishing heating up, and was anxious to give it a try for some dinner-time fillets. I was equipped with a portable Lowrance fish finder, and a couple of boxes of jigs, tubes and grubs.

I checked shallow structure first, rocky edges and submerged brush, and was almost immediately rewarded with a couple of nice black crappie. But I had to do some searching in order to find more, including finding some suspended fish in 18 to 20 feet of water. These fish were also cooperative for the most part, and I found that there was no set pattern for crappie location on this day. From shallow to suspended, I managed to scratch out a limit of fish for the frying pan — even though it took me four hours to do it.

Slow retrieves through shallower water was good for some bites, and I mostly vertical jigged in deeper water. Although I did find out that long casts allowed to sink for a bit were also getting bites on the retrieve.

Some of these crappies were only six to eight inches in length, and I released them to grow a little more. But I also caught some keepers in the 10- to 13-inch range that were thick across the back and promised some fine fillets.

I almost expected to run across a tiger musky, considering the numbers of suspended fish I found. But there were no muskies to be caught on this day. I knew, however, that the musky action would pick up as the water continued to warm. That’s when we tend to catch the most muskies; when we’re panfishing with jigs and tie into a tiger on occasion. Now that makes for some exciting action on light-weight gear.

My plan to return a few days later was “adjusted” when my son-in-law requested that we take one of my grandsons to Lost Creek Reservoir to troll for trout. We didn’t arrive as early as we do when there’s no small kids along for the trip, but did get there in time to be treated with some action. Again, we were using light gear and had a blast watching Paxton reel in some nice rainbows and cutthroats.

On one particular fish, my grandson began to tire from all the reeling he had been doing. He took a quick break before resuming the fight. Funniest thing I’ve seen from him. I just love to watch these young anglers bring fish to the boat. The excitement is unparalleled. Once the trout was released, Jon quickly got the lure back into the water. With two poles out with different lures in tow, we never did see a real advantage of one over the other.

We were dragging white Rooster-Tails and Wedding Ring spinners tipped with a piece of nightcrawler. I like that spinner-rig with the single bait-holder hook. Even if the crawler is taken by a first hit, the spinner itself entices additional bites. But we were fortunate enough to hook most of our fish on the first hit or two. The Rooster-Tails were good too, and have proven to be a good go-to-lure for us at Lost Creek.

One particular zone of water was giving us some really good success, so we kept turning around and going back through there as long as the bite was on. We probably covered that spot for over an hour, and the hits and hookups were coming with every pass. We were running in “stealth” mode too; using just an electric trolling motor to move as silently as possible.

We found that hugging the edges somewhat was most effective for us. But trolling monofilament was productive, in that the fish were not deep for the most part.

These two trips got me to wondering how well the other Top of Utah lakes were doing this spring. East Canyon is a favorite, along with Rockport and Willard Bay to name just a few. And while the trout bite should be on at most reservoirs now that the ice is long gone, Willard Bay will likely need to do some more warming up before the walleyes and wipers really get going.

So how do you choose where to go when the spring action is good almost anywhere? Hit them all, if you can.

Brad Kerr is an avid angler who can be reached at bradkfisherman@msn.com.

Brad Kerr

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