A cold, north wind blew on Sunday evening across the bay near Wildridge Campground in the southwest part of Lobster Lake.
The ice has been off for almost a couple weeks now, but the cold temperatures aren’t doing any favors for anglers looking forward to a rapid crappie bite. My dad, Gary, and I were in the only boat in the bay when we hit the water at about 5 p.m. on Sunday.
My first cast resulted in a nice slab for the basket, but they were few and far between after that. We ended up with two for the frying pan and a couple smaller ones that went back in the lake.
A couple guys in two single-person duck boats paddled by, casting as they went. Another angler in waders cast near some pencil reeds by the time we called it a day. The message seemed to be the same from the few others who tried their luck this past weekend — a few here and there, but still pretty slow.
“They’re starting to come in the shallows a little bit,” Jeremy Shuck of Christopherson Bait in Alexandria said of the crappie bite on Monday morning. “There are some guys catching some on Reno, a few off Minnewaska. I’ve heard a few on L’Homme Dieu and Darling. It’s really just starting. Our water is really cold so on a warm day they move up, but then we get a cold, windy day like we have coming up this week and they really begin to slow down.”
Cooler weather has been the norm since the warm weather made for an early ice off in late March. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 40s through Friday. Any warm-ups that have happened have been pretty short-lived, which can push the fish back into deeper water and make for an inconsistent bite.
That’s when anglers who enjoy the ease of finding crappies near docks and shorelines in the spring have to search them out.
“There’s going to be some green cabbage and coon tail, probably in that six to 10 feet of water on the flats,” Shuck said. “That’s where they’re going to stage before they move up. It will be out in front of traditional spawning areas.”
The cooler weather throughout the week could keep the crappies in those staging areas into the weekend. That’s when the forecast calls for temperatures to start inching closer to 50 degrees.
“This week looks like fishing is going to be pretty tough,” Shuck said. “This weekend, I see the weather is warming up again, and I would expect this weekend the fish to be moving up and fishing being pretty good.”
Shuck said it doesn’t take long for the fish to respond to the warmer weather. As the temperatures rise, the crappies can move in and make for a bite that can turn around quickly for anglers.
“The morning bite will be probably tough, but afternoon that water starts warming up a couple degrees,” Shuck said. “It gets that fish metabolism going. They’re wanting to feed before the spawn and get their reserves up.”