Jack Wollitz: Never too early to prep for spring fishing


After a week during which we basked in 60-degree sunshine, witnessed a tornado rip across Mosquito Creek Reservoir and shivered in 30-degree snowstorms, it’s a fine time to look ahead to the best prospects for great fishing around Youngstown in 2019.

We anglers have wide-ranging tolerance for fishing weather. As I write this week, I know many have been reeling in crappies and walleyes. A lot of folks, meanwhile, are yearning for a hard freeze so they can break out their ice-fishing gear.

So it’s winter now and while I enjoy an afternoon stroll around the Mosquito State Park marina with a spinning rod or a visit to Ohio’s steelhead waters, I yearn for my first all-out fishing-for-real day in March.

What’s better for the soul than spring sunshine stirring the life in our lakes? Do you know any blanket that can warm the kinks from your shoulders as well as the sun beaming on your back? Is there ever a day quite as full of adventure and optimism as the day the boat floats off its trailer for the first trip of the year?

Today is not too soon to begin prepping for the return of spring fishing. Certain lakes are better early season producers than others, so it makes good sense to plan on hitting them first once the thaw happens.

If this sounds simplistic, that’s because it is: My favorite springtime lakes have features that get fish moving in the spring. I visit them early. Some lakes, on the other hand, “turn on” later in the year so I visit them as the season advances.

“Early” lakes have many acres of relatively shallow water and lots of areas where fish will migrate to eat and spawn. They also have expanses of water and shoreline that get maximum exposure to the spring sun and bottom composition that maximizes the warm-up effect.

My top two spring lakes are Mosquito Creek Reservoir and Pymatuning Reservoir. While they are located well north of other Youngstown-area lakes, they warm up quickly after ice-out and I find the fish to be pretty cooperative well before they start to “bite” on other nearby waters.

For walleyes, crappies and largemouth bass, Mosquito and Pymatuning are hard to beat in March and April. Bonus spring fish at Pymatuning are smallmouth bass and muskies, while Mosquito offers the opportunity to hook up with a big northern pike.

If you haven’t become familiar with the early spring bite, now is the time to make plans. Check out contour maps for the spots you think will produce once the water starts to warm and you will be well on your way to limits of your favorite species.

Ice fishing seminar at Mosquito

Anglers who want to trying ice fishing this year will want to attend a special workshop to be conducted at Mosquito State Park Jan. 26.

Experts from ODNR Divisions of Parks & Watercraft and Wildlife will deliver instruction about planning and preparation for ice fishing excursions, equipment and safety. Much of the instruction will be outdoors, so dress appropriately for the weather.

Conditions permitting, hands-on fishing opportunities will be available. A fishing license will be required for all participants age 16 and older — and must be purchased prior to the workshop.

The workshop is free, but advance registration is required. Call 330-245-3030 to register.

jackbbaass@gmail.com

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