It finally seems that the cold wintery weather has disappeared. Since we’re well into a late spring, my biggest fear is that it’ll turn into a hot summer in a very short amount of time, which would leave some windows open for a short time to catch specific fish at specific times. Right now, we’re taking what we can get.
Water temps across the central Nebraska region have slowly been rising, only to be pushed back down at times by cold fronts. We recently had a few outings that showed the temps to be in the upper 50s, almost creeping into the 60s. This is a good thing, as some of our summer trolling patterns start in the low 60s range.
At Harlan, we found water that was in the 60 degree range and tried trolling, just to see if it would work. It turned out to be a great day for us as we boated 19 walleyes, the largest being 20”. The best part was, we caught most of these fish with nobody else around. All fish were over 15”. Throw in some nice white bass, a few drum and one wiper, and it was a fun day to be out.
The next day we returned to closer water at Johnson Lake. The water there is a bit cooler, but we tried trolling anyway. We picked up 2 saugers, and saw very few other fish caught. We decided to hop over to the Tri County canal, only a few miles away. We ended up picking up 3 more saugers, a couple of real nice crappies that were in full pre-spawn mode, and a few more white bass. I had a real nice fish on that came undone with about 20 feet of line to go. Even though with water temps around 63, I figured it might be a bit early for the flatheads to be real aggressive, but I’m sure that’s what it was. Flatheads are built for power and strength, so even a 10 pounder feels like a beast.
The good news is, the water temp is rising. The bad news is, it probably is not rising much this week on account of our temps barely being over 60 degrees most of the time, with lows dipping all the way down to 30 degrees. I try to look at the good part of this, which is if you have a pattern that’s working, it’ll keep working for a while longer. Maybe longer than usual, with this weather. I know lots of fish are being caught using crawlers now, instead of minnows, which means the fish are only becoming more active and aggressive. Sometimes we get in a rut and try things that we’re used to, and force those tactics to work, and then they just don’t. So don’t be afraid to try different things with these fluctuating temps. A perfect example is that previous to this past weekend, I went away from my plastics and crankbaits and actually used live bait, which is something I used to do exclusively. I ended up getting a limit of walleyes in the Tri County Canal near Johnson Lake, with 2 smallmouth bass, 2 more walleyes and a sauger being added by my friends. Never hurts to try things outside of your comfort zone.