6 Species To Target For Spring Fishing

Tips to catch it

Image source: striperonline

Spring is one popular time for many anglers to go fishing. After a cold winter session, it is time for most fish to become more active to go around and hunt for their prey. Also, most fish will come back from the ocean to the coastal shores and rivers to reproduce. Not to mention that the weather is also very comfortable. Spring Fishing is, therefore, the best activity that you should take part in when the season starts to change.

In this article, I will briefly introduce about and provide some good tips on using baits, and how to catch the most common fish you should target in the spring including salmon, bowfin, American shad, bluefish, sucker, and steelhead.

Here are all of what you should know about these types of fish and how to catch them:

Salmon is the Most Common for Spring Fishing

What is it?

Salmon is the common name we use to call for various species of fish that belong to the Salmonidae family, expect of trout fish and whitefish.

Salmon

Image source: Al Jazeera

Salmon can live in both freshwater and saltwater. In the fresh water, they hatch from their eggs and then grow themselves in the sea, only come back to where they hatch to reproduce, making them a type of anadromous species.  That is why you can find them both in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as the Great Lakes.

What are its traits?

Salmon have thick jaws. They prefer to live in a deeper area of the water’s body and will. Their main foods are aquatic insects when they are young and other smaller fish when you are older.

What are the best baits to catch it?

The most common natural bait that many anglers use to catch salmon is Roe (a type of egg). You can easily buy this bait from the fishing store with really low price or harvest and cure it yourself.

Also, you can use minnows and sand shrimp to attract salmon in the freshwater area. While minnows are cheaper and sand shrimp are more expensive and harder to find, sand shrimp is much more effective when you want to target big salmon in the spring.

You also have a wide variety of cut baits as well such as a fresh thin strip cut out from smelt fish or herring.

In case you want to use an artificial lure, you can use flash spinners and spoon lure as well. The most suitable artificial baits are the one with flashy details to be more attractive and visible when you cast them down into darker places- where salmon prefer to be.

Spoon lures with concave oval connected to a hook is also a very effective lure as the oval can create movement and flashes well.

In term of colors for the bait, although you should use the red fishing line, you need to avoid red and orange baits at all cost as they will hardly be seen by salmon at deep areas. Alternatively, you can choose green, purple or any color that will not be grayed out at a certain depth.

Tips to catch it?

Tips to catch it

Image source: Fishingmag.co.nz

  • Because of their thick and tough jaw, you need to use a sharp hook to Buy a sharp one or in case you use an old hook, remember to sharpen it well before you cast your bait.
  • Choose the days when you go for salmon fishing wisely. You have better chance to catch them if you go on cloudy days as salmon prefer going feeding on days with low light. If you cannot choose a specific day, going fishing before the sun rises and after sunsets are also two good options to increase your chance of catching salmon. In bright days, salmon will stay in deeper areas.
  • Learn to use drift fishing if you want to target salmon, especially when you target to catch them in rivers. You need to cast your bait way ahead of the target destination and let the bait float downstream.
  • Use red fishing line. The red color is the one which can be totally invisible in deep water areas.
  • Finally, you might need to apply for a special stamp to catch salmon in certain states in America. Otherwise, you have to pay a high fine. So check with your local authority before you start your trip.

Bowfin

What is it?

In general, bowfins are freshwater fish which live in areas such as lakes and areas. Bowfin fish are often used as natural baits themselves, which are used by many experienced anglers to catch other bigger species of fish such as Northern Pike and walleye fish. You can find this species of fish mostly in the eastern states of America such as in Mississippi River and St Lawrence River.

Bowfin

Image source: Cool Green Science – The Nature Conservancy

What are its traits?

Bowfins are tough predators who have various types of favorite natural prey. Once one bowfin catches your hook, it will fight hard for it. They can survive well in areas with lack of oxygen thanks to their extra lung as the swim bladder. The fish become inactive when the temperature drops down below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the best baits to catch it?

Bowfins are not choosy about their prey. Therefore, you can use both natural baits and artificial lures to attract bowfin to catch your hook.

  • Bowfin can be attracted to most types of natural baits. Nevertheless, they prefer to bait fish and game fish such as minnows, crayfish, shiners, and bream.
  • Besides game fish, you can use worms, frogs and insect larvae, to name just a few.
  • Cut bait also works well in case you want to target bowfin.
  • In term of lures, you can choose among crank bait, spinner bait, spoons and soft plastic bait that resemble worms and crawfish.
  • If you want to try fly- fishing to catch bowfin, you can use fly- lures that mimic streamer and wooly buggers.

Whichever lure you want to use, you should expect it to be totally broken when you finally catch the fish – you will know how strong and fierce a bowfin can be.

Tips to catch it?

Tips to catch it

Image source: On a fly!

  • Bowfin will surely fight hard to your fishing line and rod so choose a medium baitcasting or spinning rod of about 7 to 8 feet long and a line of 9 to 10 lb test line. They also have sharp teeth so use a heavy duty braided line or fluorocarbon line for extra effectiveness.
  • You need to find a place where there are a lot of bowfins staying in. They are known for living in various structures such as damps, pipes, and bridges. They also hide around mud and silt bottoms waiting for their prey to come. Don’t worry if the place you can find is quite shallow, as long as there is a human-made structure or cypress trees; bowfins are probably hanging around this area.
  • When a bowfin catches your hook, it will resist a lot so make the best use of the drag system of your fishing reel to prevent the fishing line from snapping and you losing a big fish.
  • Even when you bring it out of the water and onto the bank, a bowfin will still be able to fight hard to bring a net just in case. Washing the net in hot water and hang it out to dry under the sun on the day before you go fishing will make the net more flexible and also easier to use.

American Shad

What is it?

American shad fish belong to the herring family. Like salmon, they are anadromous when they grow in the ocean but come back to the fresh water each spring to spawn. They can be easily found on the East Coast, where they are native to and also in some areas on the West Coast- in both the sea and coastal rivers. Some of the most popular places for American shad fishing are the Columbia River in the Western and the Connecticut River on the Eastern side.

American Shad

Image source: The Pew Charitable Trusts

What are its traits?

American shad are green or blue with a hint of green color. They have metallic luster and silver sides.  Their favorite foods are small bright flies and spoons. American shad travel in a single fine line instead of grouping.

What are the best baits to catch it?

  • Shad don’t usually eat in the fresh water, so they often chase the lure out of their curiosity so make your lure as attractive as possible and try to throw some actions with the lure while you are reeling as well.
  • You can try some artificial lures such as beads and darts (to be used in colder weather at deep areas), spinners and spoons (to be used when you fish near the shore and in moderate deep areas).
  • For flying fishing, you can use some artificial lures with red or yellow heads.
  • In case you want to catch small shad fish to use as fish baits, you can use a net. The key thing to remember here is choosing the proper size of the mesh.

Tips to catch it?

The best time to go shad fishing is in the summer and spring where these fish come to the rivers for spawning.

Just like when you go hunting for other species of fish, choosing the date of your fishing trip is very important. You should check the weather forecast and look for days where there is strong current. These are the days when they move upstream towards to shore.

Tips to catch it

Image source: California Fish Species – California Fish Website

And when you cannot choose a specific date, there is still specific time during a day when American shad fishing is more effective. You should go fishing for this species in the early morning, or the early evening, this is time shad fishing go out looking for food. It is better if you can light up your boat. Shad are attracted to sources of light when it is dark.

Also, you can settle in the places near the bend of the river as well, where the current moves faster and stronger. In these areas, due to the stronger current, shad will go nearer to the banks.

You should not fish for American shad in a place which is too shallow or too deep. The ideal range of the depth should only be from 1 meter deep to 3 meters deep so pick your spot carefully along the river. Not to mention that you should only cast the bait within 10 meters away from the river banks since American shad tend to stay near the shore as well.

With American shad fishing, you don’t need to have a heavy rod and strong fishing line. Go for the lightweight rod and line to give more comfort and the best balance possible.

Drift fishing is a useful technique you can use. By casting your bait upstream, the bait will drift along the current to where the fish are.

Bluefish

What is it?

Bluefish are a salt water type of game fish that belongs to Pomatomidae family. They look like mackerel but without head markings and finlets. You can find them in the Eastern and Northeastern coast of Atlantic Ocean.

Bluefish

Image source: YouTube

What are its traits?

They live in the shallow areas near the surface. They are aggressive species with really sharp teeth which like to hunt down any fish of smaller size. Their favorite types of food include sardines, squids, and small mackerel. Bluefish feed in schools and often go shallow inshore area to hunt for their prey.

What are the best baits to catch it?

As you have already known, bluefish are very aggressive which can chase for anything that moves around in and on the water.

For live baits, you can use mackerel or mullet. You should hook the total bait, not just the head or tail. Cut bait will also do the trick but remember to use a short piece, or the bluefish can bite off the remaining bait that is not hooked.

Some types of artificial baits you can use to lure bluefish are pencil poppers, spoons, and plugs. Remember that bluefish goes for prey on the surface. Therefore, you should go for surface plugs and top water plugs.

Tips to catch it?

Overall, bluefish are easy to catch, even if you are a beginning angler.

Bluefish have sharp teeth, which can break nylon fishing line easily. That is why you should use a steel wire leader to strengthen your line, or you can change to the braided line instead. Also, you can wear gloves to protect your hands from getting injuries while handling the fishing line and the bluefish.

Tips to catch it

Image source: striperonline

The best times of the day when you can go for bluefish fishing are right before the sun rises and the sun sets. Other times during the day is fine, but you might have to wait a bit longer.

You need to find a school of bluefish, which can be easily seen under clear water and once you are near it, you should turn off any engine to avoid disturbing these fish. The places you can look for a school are shallow bays, open ocean areas, and emerging water.

You can also look for flocks of birds to identify the place where you can find them. Especially when you hear the birds screaming and coming down to the water, they are catching the remaining bait that bluefish left after they attack a school of fish.

Keep the lures moving on the surface all the time. With some baits and lures, you need to reel back right away when you cast them for them to be on the water.

Some methods you can use to catch bluefish are drift fishing, jigging, still fishing and trolling.

Once the fish is hooked on the bait, you need to act quickly if you want to keep it alive. Reel back the fish as near you as possible. When you take the fish out of the water, use both hands to remove it quickly.

Suckerfish

What is it?

Suckerfish is also known as Silver Redhorse. They are soft-rayed fined fish living in deep water with a strong current. They can be found all over the States, but the places with the highest concentration are in northwest Florida Rivers as well as northern Florida stream.

Suckerfish

Image source: Survivalist Boards

What are its traits?

They feed small aquatic creatures and insects from rivers and lakes’ bottom. Suckerfishes also feed in school. They spawn in the spring and feed actively on their way upstream.

What are the best baits to catch it?

The most basic and common live bait you can begin with is worms, which you can buy it from fishing stores or collect them by yourself. You can also use night crawlers, leeches, and minnows.

Artificial lure you can use to catch suckerfish includes spinner, jig and twister tale. Make sure the lure can sink to the bottom to reach the fish as well as the place where their prey lives.

For fly fishing, you can use wet flies whose designs resemble worms and small fish.

Tips to catch it?

Be prepared that these species of fish are fast and mostly live in the fast moving current of water.

The first thing you need to make sure to succeed in catching these fish is finding the right spot. As I mention, they like feeding in the places where the water is strong. The best place could be the area with around 30 to 40 feet deep of fast moving water. You can also find them under the bridges, near rock piles and log jam.

Suckerfish are easy to catch, and you don’t need high heavy duty fishing gear to do the job. All you need is 6 to the 7-pound test monofilament fishing line with size six hook.

Tips to catch it

Image source: YouTube

When you cast your live bait or lure, make sure they don’t float in or on the water. Suckerfish only feed food from the bed of the lakes and rivers, so your baits and lures lying on the bottom have the best chance to attract suckerfish.

You can either go for boat fishing or shore fishing.

Steelhead

What is it?

A steelhead also has another name, which is the saltwater rainbow trout. It can live in both salt water and freshwater areas. It will spend 2 to 3 years living and growing up at sea and come back to the fresh water area only to reproduce.

Steelhead

Image source: Ontario OUT of DOORS Magazine

What are its traits?

It can eat any fish whichever smaller fish that they can catch- when they are small, they often hunt for insects and eggs of other fish as well as their own and when they are bigger, they will chase other types of fish. It can live up to 10 years and weight up to 55 pounds. Steelheads are very popular as they can be found in Asia seas, North American along with the Pacific Ocean.

What are the best baits to catch it?

The best natural bait you can use to catch steelhead is the egg of other fish (roe). This bait can be used to catch both small and large steelhead. Steelhead extremely likes this food, especially in the spring. And of course, you can find fish’s egg plentiful in the spring. It is easy for you to harvest these eggs, let them dry and put them into the freezer for storage.

Other natural baits you can use for steelhead are shrimps, which are their typical food when they are in the ocean.

Much like the natural eggs, artificial eggs such as EZ eggs are also very effective and can trigger the instinct of steelhead easily. They are usable everywhere, you can add extra scent to them, and they are durable so you can keep using them for a long time.

There are also many other types of artificial lures which can be used to catch steelheads such as spinners, jig, plugs and silver spoons.

Last but not least, you can try flies as they are very effective for catching freshwater rainbow trout.

Keep in mind that steelhead doesn’t usually eat in spring. Therefore, artificial lures can be in all different shapes and designs and don’t have to match their natural prey. However, you should choose the size of the bait depending on the condition of the water and the size of the steelhead you want to catch.

Tips to catch it?

Where are the best places to catch steelhead?-  It is ideal that you can find covers such as rock gardens and large piles of rocks under the water, which are the places where steelhead tend to stay behind. So find these places and start fishing around, hoping that your lure would be able to attract some of the steelhead to come out.  Another place where steelhead fish also stay behind is a deep area or an outer bend.

You should use a longer rod than the normal one you often use for fishing. This will allow for more line to be above the water level and hence reduce the speed of your swing. This technique will then help you to secure more fish.

Check for permission to use natural eggs with the local authority where you are going fishing in. If roes are not allowed in that area, you can switch to using EZ eggs.

Tips to catch it

Image source: Orvis

Here is another tip for using baits and lures. As I have noted above, steelhead doesn’t usually eat in the spring. Therefore, your job is to trigger their curiosity by using actions with the baits and lures.

Finally, there are many methods which you can use to catch steelhead. Don’t just stick to one. You can try boat fishing, fly fishing and spinner fishing, to name just a few. You can also try drift fishing where you cast your bait upstream and let the bait move along the stream to where the steelhead live. So check these methods out to see which one is suitable for your preference.

Conclusion

These are all of the information about six species to target for spring fishing. These fish are quite common and can be found in many places. Some of them are easy to catch while some of them will require a lot of techniques as well as tricks to catch, especially when you are aiming for trophy fish. Nevertheless, I assure you that you will find a lot of fun and enjoyment hunting down for them.

Springtime is certainly the best time of the year for fishing as the weather is cooler, the fish are more effective, and there are a lot of chances to catch big fish. So start cleaning your fishing gear, preparing and stocking lures and baits and heading up – you will certainly have a lot of fun and exciting spring fishing trip.

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