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1st Open Water--Shallow or Deep

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Here in Indiana, we now have NO ice and I fish two local lakes that are similar. Both have good populations of crappies, gills and a few walleyes. Both have a max depth of 70' with fair structure and flats of 18' or so off the deep water. So, now that the ice is gone, where do I start, shallow or deep, especially for crappies? walleyes? gills?? thanks for your opinion and also if you feel like it, throw in your favorite presentation.

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  • 'we have more fun' FishingMN Creators

What's the water temp and do you have a shallow mud bottom bay on the north side that drops into deeper water? Do you have an inlet into the lake? This will very likely be a good spot when the water temp in them warms above 39 degrees.

Any of the above can be good, put them all together and you more than likely have a popular panfishing spot.

Inlets are notorious for rising above this temp very early in the spring and sending warm water into the lake triggering a run of crappies and often sunfish as well.

Shallow mudbottom bays on the northside also warm more quickly sparking the cycle of life to start again. If the fish have deep water nearby they are much more likely to be utilizing the type of area described above.

Wherever you find warmer stable water that's normally where you will find fish in early spring. Normally the most stable water is deeper and at 39 degrees. Shallow water will warm more quickly but is less stable generally. Thus the need for deeper stable water nearby for panfish to retreat to.

A lot of variables will give you different answers. The toughest variable to predict is the weather.

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That's all very true, but to simplify as a rule in the spring you do well to start shallow and work your way out from there.

For presentations, if you believe in the "match the hatch" theory you want to stay away from leech or crawler rigs or imitators until the water is hitting the mid 50's, because you won't find leeches very often or active below that temp, at least not in lakes I fish. I like to check reed beds in a lake to look for leeches swimming around. When I find them I switch to plastic jig worms for weed walleyes and generally kick some walleye keester for about the first three weeks before it slows down.

When I have colder water temps, I use minnow crank baits or when it's really cold a slip bobber w/ a shiner, let it drift over a flat or hump.

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