Is your favorite lake still frozen? You can either go stare at your ice hole, or find some open water. I’ll take the latter.
Tip 1: Be mobile. Sometimes a small change in elevation or latitude is all it takes to go from ice to open water. For the past couple of weeks I’ve done just that – driven south and then fished the warmest water I could find within those areas.
Tip 2: Pick a water that warms first. I know I alluded to that in Tip 1, but it is worth stating twice. The first waters to lose their ice will offer the first opportunities for openwater success. From there, find a pattern that you can repeat on other waters as they thaw and warm.
Tip 3: Be willing to use a combination of live bait and artificials. Some days your artificials will outfish the livies, and sometimes it’s the opposite. When possible, use them simultaneously on two different rods to cover more water and recognize a pattern.
Tip 4: Be flexible on your target species. Choose waters with multiple species of gamefish or large panfish. Bass and crappies, bass and perch, bass and pike are all great early season combos.