When I was in school, spring break came too early in the spring to be fishing friendly. Move them back a month or so and I’d have had some dynamite action.
But my family weren’t travelers, for the most part, and I certainly didn’t have the resources to head north, south or other directions for a fishing vacation during that brief week off from my classes. Plenty of people do make the move, these days. There are sunny beaches to the south, plenty of late season snow in the Rockies and dozens of other options for family (or fishing) trips. Here are a few:
Lake Michigan Salmon: This is probably the easiest and least expensive for most people in our area. It wasn’t an option when I was in school because there were no salmon in the lake back then. Salmon are cold water loving fish. They naturally exist in the cold Pacific from northern California on up to Alaska. So even though the water in Lake Michigan is still cold, it’s what the salmon enjoy. Most of Indiana’s charter boats start their season at “spring-break” time and some offer discounts to kick-start the season. Even at the full price, measure that against the costs of a road trip to find happy and willing-to-bite fish. Visit www. Charterfish.org.
Taneycomo Trout: Branson, Missouri is a tourist town. It’s that way because it has lots of fun things for visitors to do, activities, shows, scenic wonders and it’s about a month ahead of our part of the world when it comes to spring. On Table Rock Lake at Branson, the crappie bite may be on, but the lake isn’t world famous for crappies. Below the dam that creates Table Rock, are the tailwaters of Table Rock, which are the headwaters for Lake Taneycomo. More important this area has some of the best trout fishing in the country. There are plenty of guides and plenty of action from fly fishing - catch and release for trophies to bait or spin fishing for eating size fish. Visit www.Lilleyslanding.com.
Lake of the Woods: does heading north to Minnesota seem like an odd spot for a spring break outing? There’s no beaches or outdoor swimming up there at this time of year. But there are a couple of sure-fire options. Most years the ice fishing season is still in full swing and the motto “last ice is best ice” was written in the north country. With ice most years two or three feet thick, it can be warm above, plenty of ice under your feet and millions of walleye, perch and crappies feeling the spawning urge and on the feed to put them in shape for the spawn.
When ice conditions deteriorate, a second option is the Rainy River. No one knows how many walleye and sauger head up the river during the spawning season. Limit catches are almost guaranteed. Most people just fish and release until they tire of the sport. Increasingly, sturgeon crash the party and hooking one of these on your walleye rod is the battle royale. When I’ve asked spring break anglers if it was cold, most of them said, “I don’t remember!” Visit www. Lakeofthewoodsmn.com.
Kentucky Lake: As is Branson, Kentucky Lake is a month or so ahead of us in the transition from winter to summer. Kentucky Lake is renowned for spring crappie fishing and rightly so. Most spring break schedules would put the “breakers” there shortly before or at the peak of spawning activities. Both offer tremendous fishing. Expect cool mornings and shirt-sleeve afternoons. And plenty of places to fish. Most people from our area catch on to it easily, but there are dozens of experienced guides who can make your visit a guaranteed success. Visit www. www.kentuckylake.org.
Gulf Shores/Orange Beach: This Alabama destination is one of the country’s “traditional” spring break destinations. Miles of sandy beaches, warm water, beach-front condos, plenty of restaurants and night life. It’s perfect!
It’s also perfect if you are a fisherman. Inshore you can catch a redfish and sea trout in protected waters but don’t overlook at least one excursion out into the Gulf on a bigger boat. Open seasons vary with the time of year your break occurs but there’s always something to try to catch and always something biting.
Happy spring break!