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Off and Running

It’s amazing what a little nice weather can do – it allows us to get out and get some projects done, gives our gardens a shot in the arm and really turns on the bite. By the time you read this, many of you will already know that several species of fish have gone nuts across the state. The walleyes and wipers have been eating everything in sight with crappie, bass and catfish not far behind.

As for our area, things have vastly improved. The Tri County canal above and below Johnson Lake has been hot. We have been picking up quite a few fish, and quite the variety, on crankbaits. Saugers, crappies, even northern pike have been very active. The crappies that have been coming into the boat have been very nice sized, and mostly suspended. Along with being caught over open water, this tells me that they are nearly finished up with their spawn. The weather this spring really pushed their spawn back, but they are getting back to normal rather quickly. The sauger bite has been good,  and we even lost a very nice northern at the boat. He was all of 32-34 inches and very thick. I believe we also lost a flathead that hit a crankbait as well. These fish are being caught at all depths, but the deeper pattern has prevailed thus far.

Speaking of northern pike, I spent time at a reservoir recently that I don’t fish very often. My friends have a cabin at Jeffrey Reservoir out near Brady and they were busy last week breaking in their new pontoon boat. I was happy to be able to tag along and hopefully get some fishing done in the process. Using their new motor to troll proved to be a productive pattern, and we had one of our best fishing days ever at Jeffrey Reservoir. Dragging crankbaits over points produced 3 nice northern pike on consecutive points, with a total of 5. Four of these fish were 28-30”, and it’s clear that they were strategically placed on the tips of points waiting to ambush prey that was unlucky enough to swim by. Every pike was in the same area on each point, and hit the exact same lure. The most miraculous part of this day was that we caught 5 pike on a lure and actually still have the lure! Throw in 5 nice crappies and a few white bass in just a couple of hours, and you have yourself a good day. While Jeffrey Reservoir is primarily known as a great catfishing lake, you never know what you’ll catch there. A regular added bonus of fishing another canal lake.

Wipers are another species we’ve been targeting with good success. I’ve written in the past about one of my favorite waters being Elwood Reservoir and how its future is in question, but right now there are some nice wipers in that lake. The alewife are abundant, and the wipers are taking full advantage. In three days we caught over 300 fish, with many of those being wipers. The most interesting thing about that number is that while there are wipers, white bass, pike and catfish included, only one walleye added to that count. In years past, we would catch several walleyes either before or after the wipers were present. That pattern hasn’t existed for us this year. I have been told of several walleyes caught in other areas of the lake, but I have yet to catch one there myself this year. After catching 92 walleyes there in 2012, but only 10 in 2013, their absence still seems odd after being so plentiful so recently. Personally, I have no problem with this change. There are quite a few days when I am very happy with catching wipers over walleyes, and I doubt I’m alone. Hopefully the lake will receive water from the floods out west and the good fishing can continue for the short term future.

Cooler weather has come once again with some rain involved, so that should keep water temps down a bit for a short time. I look at this as a good thing in that some successful patterns that have prevailed will work just a bit longer before changing. It’s clear that fishing has taken off recently, so get out and enjoy it. June is going to be a great month for catching fish.

About Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson is a lifelong resident of central Nebraska who has spent his entire life chasing fish of all kinds. Nearing 100 Master Angler awards for 13 different species, Brian spends most of his time fishing central Nebraska water, including the Tri County Canal system and associated waters.

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