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Is it Fishing Season Yet?

OK, I’ll admit it; I’m a year-round fisherman, and there’s probably never a month of the year that goes by that I don’t get some fishing in somewhere, either on the ice, in a boat, or wading a stream.

Admittedly, the ice fishing season was again cut short, so it’s time to move on to the next phase.

Many are probably saying that there’s a lull in fishing right now since trout season is not set to open until April, and fishing on lakes is not productive this early in the year. Not so! There are actually a lot of different fishing opportunities available right now.

Take trout fishing, for example. Sure, the regular statewide trout season doesn’t open until the first Saturday in April, but there are still opportunities to get out right now.

As I mentioned in last week’s article, there are several locations where you can trout fish year-round, although with special regulations.

As I write this piece, a couple of my friends are on Penn’s Creek right now fly-fishing for trout. Granted, it’s catch and release fishing, but when it comes to trout fishing, I practice catch and release anyway, but I still get the satisfaction of spending time on a stream catching trout.

For the most part, you are limited to fly fishing or using artificial lures for trout at this time of year, but trust me, it’s a very effective way to catch trout.

Streamers and an assortment of wet flies like Wooly Buggers, Mop-flies, and an assortment of egg patterns will all put a bend in your rod.

For the spin fisherman, you probably can’t go wrong with an artificial minnow pattern like a three-inch Rapala or one of the popular in-line spinners like a Mepps.

Bass can also be taken this time of year, especially smallmouths. I know, most people think of bass as a “warm water” fish, but they can still be caught even now, especially since we’ve had a mild winter, and it looks like an earlier warm-up.

Bear in mind that bass fishing is limited to catch and release/no harvest from April 8 through June 9. I limit my bass fishing to catch and release all year long, but the excitement of seeing or feeling that pounding strike drives my desire to bass fish.

Right now, on the river, I would be especially interested in working a Ned-rig, a Wacky-Worm, or some type of jig.

Now, if you are looking to head out onto a lake for some fun fishing or maybe even bring back some fish back for the frying pan, you are still in business even at this time of the year.

Granted, you must wear a life jacket this time of year, but the extra bulk is worth it since some good fishing can be had even now.

Now is a good time to go after panfish like perch, bluegills, and crappies. Now, these are the fish that I will often bring home to eat, and for good reason; they are excellent table fare when properly filleted and prepared. Another reason I will keep these fish is their numbers are usually abundant, and their reproduction capacity quickly replaces those being removed.

I suggest you start your fishing in the deeper water and work up through the water column until you find some schools — a sonar unit makes that a lot easier.

Ultralight spinning gear with a four-pound test is a good choice, as is a small jig with a tube or a two-inch twister tail grub; add a chunk of earthworm or a wax worm if the action is slow.

Be aware of special regulations for panfish on different waters.

So, the point is you don’t have to wait to go fishing since there are always some kind of seasons and situations that permit it year-round, and this recent warm spell has me raring to go.