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Spring into Fishing – Early Season Tips

little boy fishing

No bugs, no water-skiers, no pleasure-boats and a pristine lake all to yourself; it is no surprise that fishing insiders know spring is a great time to get out fishing.

In addition, the fish haven’t seen a lure in months, their movements are very predictable and they are eager to bite which makes this some of hottest action of the season. Ice off usually occurs late March or early April and my favourite species to target in the spring are yellow perch, sunfish, crappie (aka panfish) and northern pike.

someone holding a fish

Before you venture out on the water, take some time now to prepare for that opening trip.

While I wait for the ice to melt I can often be found doing homework on new lakes and spots to try. There are plenty of chat forums dedicated to fishing on the internet (see sidebar). Asking questions online or doing a quick search through prior posts can be extremely helpful and save you valuable time on the water. Peterborough and the Kawarthas is a region that is regulated by two separate Fisheries Management Zone 15 and Zone 17. Be sure to pick up a copy of the Ontario Recreational Fishing Regulations Summary for the current year. Numerous fish species are not open to fishing and several fish sanctuaries exist which are zone and lake specific. It is better to learn about these regulations now in the comfort of your home, rather than out on the water with a conservation officer looming over you.

a fishing rod on a boat

After you complete your online search and confirm the local fishing regulations, try to locate a hydrographic map of the lake you want to fish so you can plan your day on the water.

A good starting point early in the season for panfish and northern pike are shallow dark-bottomed bays and river inlets that have deep water nearby. South facing sections of the lake are the quickest to warm so that is where early season activity is best. Panfish are often found tight to visible cover such as docks, bulrushes and fallen trees, whereas the pike can be found roaming just outside this shallow water cover.

someone holding a small fish

To chase giant crappie, I usually launch out of Sunrise Resort* to fish Lower Buckhorn Lake or Bensfort Bridge Resort* to fish the Otonabee River leading into Rice Lake. For big bluegills Scotsman Point Resort* on Upper Buckhorn Lake is my favourite choice.

For panfish try small inline spinners (Mepps® Black Fury® in #1 or #2 sizes), small minnow-imitation crankbaits (two inch Rapala® Original Floating® black and silver) or micro tube jigs under a slip float.

man holding a large fish

Not all the lakes in the Kawarthas have pike in them, so do your homework beforehand.

Cordova Lake, Round Lake, Belmont Lake and Crowe Lake all have numerous pike in them, some up to 10 pounds. For bigger catches Chandos Lake in FMZ 15 has pike approaching 20 pounds if you are willing to wait until their later opening date. For northern pike my favourite lure by far is a bright coloured jerk bait (firetiger Rapala® Husky Jerk™ HJ12 or HJ14). Other great pike lures are spinner baits, large in-line spinners, spoons and soft-plastic swim baits. Vary your retrieves fast and slow to determine what the pike want and be sure to add a wire leader to avoid a toothy pike cutting your line.

someone holding a small fish

There is nothing more relaxing than time spent on the water on a beautiful spring day.

Fishing for most people is all about catching a couple fish and enjoying the outdoors with family and friends. If you do some simple planning ahead of time, you can almost guarantee early season success.

Tight Lines,


Popular Online Fishing Information:

Ontario Fishing Forums –

Ontario Fishing Network –

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Fish ON-Line Tool –