Question - We want to fish other bodies of water and try different techniques. Since the water is still cold, where would you suggest we try and what bait should we use?
Lance Baker -
"Right now the best cold bait lures to go with are a blade bait, drop shot, and jig. These cannot be beat in cold water conditions!!! "
Kary Ray -
'If you're fishing from the shore it can make it a challenge but it can definitely be done. I would search for some kind of rock or wood in the water, preferably next to some deep water. The fish at this time of year will likely move up and down the water column due to the changes in the weather. The rocks and wood will help warm the water quicker in that area which will make the fish warm quicker and be a little more aggressive.
For bass I would fish either a jig with some kind of plastic trailer like a zoom chunk or a twin tail grub. Another great choice, and my personal favorite, would be a chatterbait. You can use this particular lure in a variety of ways. You can bounce it off the bottom like a jig, slow roll it along the bottom or, when the fish are a little more aggressive later in the afternoon, you can just cast it out and reel it in.
Catfish right now will start getting real good. Go back into the shallow pockets and throw dead bait (chubs or bluegills) or nightcrawlers on the bottom and just wait. Watch your rod carefully, cause if you get one it is probably gonna be a dandy!
Crappies and bluegills will make a push back into the shallow water but most won't hold there. They will come back into the pockets after a couple warm days then move back out and suspend with a cold front. My suggestion would be to use a 1/16 oz. jig head with a minnow on a slip bobber. This way you can adjust the depth of your presentation until you find the fish. Again, wood and rocks will attract this fish as well.
Anytime you have a place on a lake where a creek is feeding into the lake, this is a prime spot. All species of the lake will migrate there to some extent due to the warm water coming in. Think north when fishing in the spring. The pockets on the north side of the lake will warm quicker which will bring the baitfish and larger fish in right behind them."
Rod Woten -
"Depends on what species you’re after right now. Pike will be in shallow water spawning or just finishing up with spawning. If the pike are done spawning, the perch will be next. Crappies will be staged somewhere between the mid-lake basins where they’ve spent the later part of the winter suspended. Somewhere between that basin and shallower weedy or dark bottom bays, those crappies can be intercepted. Bluegills should still be relatively close to where we were catching them prior to ice out. If there are still green weeds to be found, look for them there. Otherwise, they are probably still located in those deeper water “sticky bottom” areas. They won’t begin moving shallow to spawn until the water warms up considerably. Catfish should be concentrated anywhere there is a concentration of winter-kill fish….especially shad. Cats will pretty much be on a feeding frenzy until those dead fish are gone, so lots of folks lie to target them right now with cut bait.
Think small bait. The water is still relatively cold, so the metabolism of the fish still isn’t firing at full power. It’s okay to upsize a bit for what we were using prior to ice out, but keep it slow, because these fish aren’t looking for a drag race to catch their food yet. Live bait is good…waxworms for just about everything, small minnows for crappies & walleye. This is also a good time to practice up with those micro plastics that we were using through the ice."