High, fast, stained, and darn cold – those are the conditions you’ll most likely run into with early spring fishing, as thawing ice creates so much runoff, along with regular showers, can turn the water into a fast-running mess.

early spring fishing on riversBut it’s also the time of the year that’s a favorite for many anglers, especially those who love early spring creek fishing, spring Walleye fishing, and my favorite, spring Crappie fishing. If you’re willing to put up with the mud, the muck, the cold and the high rivers, lakes, and creeks, you’ll come home with some monster bass, crappies, pikes, walleyes, and even trout, and crappies of the season.

But just knowing where to find them and getting situated is the hardest part, so here are our tips for spring creek fishing:

Types of Fish for Spring Fishing

Trout
When the river is high and stained in early season, the spring creek fishing is at its finest. To hook trout, it’s good to work near eddies, near the bank, and in slow breaks. But when the water is so high that there’s not much of a bank remaining, it’s time to cast into the flooded woods and covered ground. Of course, that means shallow conditions and warmer water, but the key is to find the spot where the runoff spills back into the river. Trout will set up shop there to catch the baitfish and worms that are flowing down, too.

Smallmouth bass
Spring bass fishing is one of my personal favorites, but you’ll be dealing with cold waters ranging from 38 to 42 degrees. While some anglers may be hesitant, it’s time to hook the bass because they’ll be abundant under these conditions. Look for steep shelves or drop-offs that run into shallow areas where the water arms, which is where the bass will spawn. That’s exactly where spring bass fishing will be a memorable experience!

Largemouth bass
If you thought that spring bass fishing is just for smallmouth, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. The hard work is finding a spot where the dirty water starts to clear up, like the water that covers the banks when it floods. That’s also where the baitfish will congregate, so the largemouth will flock. Fishing these new banks near woods, a rock formation, or other set formation will be most fruitful.

Walleyes
Not everyone is familiar with spring Walleye fishing, but it’s a lot of fun with a little patience. You’ll find walleyes running up rivers in the autumn, as they look for a place to winter. Try below dams in slack holes or the shallower runs to find the most Walleye, or cast into lesser finger creeks or eddies where the current is slow.

Crappies
Seasoned anglers know that for successful spring Crappie fishing, you don’t need to keep an eye on the water temperatures as much as the clarity. Of course, the more stained the water, the more shallow the bottom, which also means you can catch plenty of prespawn trophy fish as they’re on the move to spawning areas. If you’re not hooking them easily, move to need some flooded woods or riprap at a bay mouth about 4 to 10 feet deep.

Northern Pike
When the ice peels off, it’s spring Pike fishing season, as this species will follow sandy and shallow bays. The Pike love the warmer water temps there because it kick-starts their metabolism. But strike early in the season when the water is highest and clear, because northern pike will move into the weeds and dirty water once it warms up a bit and they’ll be harder to locate.