3 Tips for Ice-Off Stillwater Fishing
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3 Tips for Ice-Off Stillwater Fishing

If you know where to look, the first few days of open water can yield fantastic results!

It might not look like it right now, as the snow is coming down in heaps, but we are not that far away from seeing open water. Within a month, I am sure there will be somewhere one can dump their boat in the water and watch a little orange sphere for a few hours.

Ice-off can be a tricky window. There are often no insects emerging, fish are fairly lethargic due to cold water temperatures, and the air temperatures are typically far from balmy.

That being said, I have had some magical Stillwater fishing during the ice-off period. Though not many, there are lakes that experience a strong chironomid emergence as soon as the ice leaves the lake. Here are 3 tips for your first trip out this spring!

1) Search the Shallows

During the early periods of a lake’s open water season, fish will often be found in less than ten feet of water.

Targeting the edges of reed beds, shallow flats, or transitions from deep to shallow water are all lucrative approaches in the early season.

The shallows are often where the first chironomid emergences of the year will take place. They are often sporadic, concentrated, and just because they are hatching does not guarantee fish will be keyed into them.

Regardless of the fly you are fishing, take the time to search shallow water and shoreline structure just after ice-off.

2) Befriend the Indicator

Bobbers, also referred to as “strike indicators” because it is a less diminishing term for the fly angler, are incredibly effective during the early season.

The reason for this?

Strike indicators allow you to suspend your fly indefinitely at a specific depth. This is highly effective when fish are lethargic, cruising and feeding at a relatively slow pace.

The strike indicator allows you to make a static presentation, with minimal chance of your fly hanging up on bottom.

Lastly, fish will often subtly grab the fly in cold water. The indicator will not rocket down with authority, rather it will often submerge just below the water’s surface for a few short seconds, if that.

Strike indicators allow you to capitalize on these subtle bites, offering a visual confirmation when your fly has been picked up.

3) Never Overlook the Blob

Staple food sources such as leeches, scuds and bloodworms are often on the menu during this period. I do not like to use the “D-Word” on this website, but Daphnia (micro-organism that has the ability to drive a stillwater angler insane) are often found in throat samples in early spring.

Related: 3 Reasons Blob Flies are Great

When this is the case, flies such as the Blob become a key player. Blobs have the ability to imitate Daphnia clouds, and fish will both suspended under a strike indicator and retrieved on an intermediate sinking line in the shallows.

We have some availability during the month of April into early May for those looking to get on the water! Drop your info into the form below and we will make it happen for you.


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