We had record high temps in Vermont two weeks ago which is now causing havoc for fishermen. When the ice goes out and the water starts to warm panfish push to the shallows in search of the warmest water preparing for the spawn. This was the case two weeks ago however, the weather was thrown us for a loop. Temps have been back to normal if not cooler. Surface temps of 66 have dropped backed down to 39-44 degrees, and the fish are shocked! The water on the big lake is actually warmer in the channel, deeper water due to the fact that there is more water there to cool down. The shallows in some spots have started to skim over again, is it time to get the ice gear back out? There are a few things you can try if you insist on fishing these tough conditions to try and improve your success.
It’s easy to get frustrated when a situation like this happens, just remember, when fish are moving in, they are concentrated. There are a lot of fish in these areas and they are not going to travel all the way back to where they had spent the winter, they’re not far. It is likely that the fish have just slide out of these areas and re-located to the nearest hard bottomed flat. The fish will stage up here waiting for the water to warm back up. Although they are more spread out, they can still be caught. They may relate to small pieces of structure that will attract the warmth from the sunlight and warm the water slightly, a few degrees is all that it takes.
If the weather is really drastic the fish might just slide right out into the nearest deep water they can find. A good depth zone to look for would be 16′. In this case I would use my electronics on the boat, or my Vexilar on bottom lock, and cruise the drop offs close to the warm water flats in search of suspended fish. Live bait might be your best bet in this case, not only did the cold weather shock their spawning pattern, it also will shut down their feeding pattern, it might take live bait to make them eat. Another thing to think of is water clarity. Stained water is darker and will warm up sooner, this may also cause fish to be drawn to these areas.
When the weather gets cold after record high temps things will get tough. Try not to get discouraged and keep at it, you’ll be surprised how much you may learn.