We are amidst the ice-off window of the springtime stillwater season, here are a few key points to keep in mind on the water.
Is there anything better than pulling into your favourite lake, seeing that the long awaited ice-off has taken place, and that spring has truly arrived?
Before the turnover process begins, ice-off can be one of the best times of the year for targeting big fish in shallow water.
If you’re on the fence and wondering if you should wait until turnover has completed before putting your boat in the water, I would say you are missing out on a potentially fantastic day of fishing.
In assistance to your first few trips of the year, here are a couple key points that were discussed in the most recent episode of the Interior Fly Fishing Co. Podcast:
Focus on shallow water
Fish are often found in less than 10 feet of water immediately following ice-off. This is the warmest part of the lake, and where most of their food resides in the early portion of the season. This is not to say that you cannot find fish in deep water, but traditionally the most active fish will be found on flats, weed beds, and against ledges and dropoffs.
Feed them what they want
The grocery store has limited stock this time of year for them, and they will often be found keying into their favourite residual food sources such as leeches, immature damsels, water boatmen, freshwater shrimp and bloodworms.
Leveraging the use of strike indicators
Indicators (I like the term bobber better) are a wonderful tool this time of the season, when fish are often quite lethargic due to cold water temps and a slow metabolism. The use of an indicator will allow you to keep the fly moving slowly, without fearing you might hang up on bottom.
Keep an open mind
I have seen some spectacular ice-off chironomid fishing take place, and have also had some very non-traditional ice-off experiences (such as catching big rainbows on #14 callibaetis nymphs in 43 degree water). You never know what you’re going to encounter. Roll with it and keep your perspective wide open, adaptive anglers are the ones that catch the most fish.
P.S. Phil Rowley and I have put together a wonderful 21-day training program to maximize your stillwater knowledge and expertise this season, click here to get all the details before enrolment closes on Sunday night!