Fishing season opened last weekend but it was not a stellar opening given that winter-like ice still covered more than a few lakes. That has all changed as warming weather now has taken hold and lakes in the immediate Rhinelander area are open. Still, as of mid-week many lakes to the north are still locked up under ice. Given late ice out (or no ice out at all) it was no surprise that angling participation and success both were limited. Smaller and shallower lakes were open and those lakes, along with the rivers in the area, most notably the Wisconsin, all got heavy pressure. No surprise there; anglers, come opening day, will find the open water. This week we are near normal in terms of open water and fishing should be far more accessible to all. Warmer water will spur fish to feed so the key, as in all springs, is to find that water in shallower lakes or shallow bays on deep lakes that has warmed up faster. If fish are to be had, that’s the place to start. We saw that last week and we will expect to see that not only this week but in the next several weeks. There has been some very good walleye fishing on the Wisconsin River and some decent crappie action on a few local lakes. That will continue but we’ll also be able to fish the newly opened lakes where the warmer, shallower water should hold fish.

The key to success in any springtime is to go with smaller lures, lighter tackle and a slow retrieve. Walleyes in the spring are best fished with 6# or even 4# test line and a light action rod. We’d use with slow moving jigs or small crankbaits for walleyes and the typical small jigs for crappies. Last week the walleyes hit on jig and minnows as well as jigs tipped with Gulp or similar synthetics. That will be the case this week as well. We expect some good to very good fishing for those anglers who can locate fish and have the patience to use a very slow retrieve.

-- Mitch Mode at Mel’s Trading Post in Rhinelander