Slow down for successful spring fishing

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The best tip I’ve ever learned for catching fish in early spring was from two internationally renowned fly fishing guides named Simon and Garfunkel.

OK, maybe Paul and Art aren’t known for their tight casting loops, but they laid out the best early season fishing advice when they sang, “Slow down, you move too fast…”

Too often, on the first few warm, sunny days there’s a tendency to rush out to a favorite spot on the river, swish the fly rod back and worth wildly, and splash way too much fly line into the water.

And, even worse, swing and rip those big streamers or drag those chubbies qujckly across the surface of the water.

C’mon boys, once again, tell us what to do.

It’s important to remember that all fish, regardless of species, are poikilothermic, meaning their body temperature is similar to their environment.

Call this “cold-blooded” if you wish.

In the cold water of springtime, the metabolism of fish is much slower than mid-July.

Fish move slower, chase food slower, just do everything that requires the expenditure of energy much slower.

Available energy levels for getting food are low and, for spring-spawners, reproductive activity also consumes this limited energy.

In biology, this relationship between energy and temperature is known as the “Q10 Rule”, meaning for every 10 degrees C rise in temperature, the metabolic rate doubles.

What does this mean for fishing now? Several things…

Retrieve flies, lures and baits slowly.

Look for fish in areas where they don’t have to expend much energy. Not raging riffles and white water, but rather deep pools and quiet eddies

It’s not unusual for warmwater species like pike, bass and perch to move to shallow, warmer water in late afternoon, then move back deeper at night

Lake anglers can use strike-indicators to suspend baits and flies for longer periods of time without retrieval.

So, slow down on your first several fishing trips this spring. Feelin’ groovy optional.

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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