Looking for spring? Look for signs from fish

By Bill Bartusek

I try to make notes at the cabin each time we stay there for awhile. So I looked back at last year's calendar, just to see what the weather was like last March.

It was interesting to see we had quite a bit of snow on the ground one year ago. However, that was almost all the snow we got last year. It all came in March, and 10 days later, it was all gone. I did see some single-digit temperatures later in the month.

What really caught my eye were the temperatures in late March last year. We had some 70-degree days and hit one 80-degree day. I don't see that happening this year, even though spring can't be that far off. I saw some really pretty tom turkeys doing a bit of strutting on a field the other day. That's definitely a sign of spring. Some of my friends also saw some robins in town. I wonder if they wintered somewhere near or if they migrated from somewhere south. That could be a sign of spring!

While ice fishing at the cabin the last two weeks, I noticed something else. For most of the winter, we caught quite a few pike while panfishing. We also got a bite off a lot. Recently the pike have been absent, which makes good sense. Pike spawn in the shallows in very early spring. Anytime between March 15 and April 15, they have left the deep water and are staying near their spring spawning grounds. How do they know? I'm not sure, but they know. That's a sure sign of spring. As we fished last week and again this week, we found ourselves further north on the lake and in a bit shallower water. The sunfish and crappies on our lake have started to move. If the days continue to warm, they will continue to move toward bays on the north side of the lake. There the sun's rays warm the banks and will start to melt the ice first. Eventually, the dark-bottomed bays will hold the panfish after ice out.

I can almost see myself there now. In the meantime, I'll touch up the auger blades and make sure it is ready for next week.

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