Warm weather = warm water; Panfish active in shallows
What a beautiful spring we are having. The nice weather is warming our lakes very quickly. Water temps on most of our lakes are in the mid 50s to 60 degrees. It has been a long time since we have warmed up this much before fishing opener.
With the opener still a couple weeks away we could have fish transitioning to a summer pattern already.
The sunfish and crappies are active in shallow water. When fishing for them, you are going to catch bass and northern pike, as they are wild on the bite now in the shallow weed beds. Remember, you can't keep them until May 15, so handle them respectfully when you release them. You may catch a few walleyes by accident too, as they also are up shallow now, and definitely make sure you handle them with care and release them safely.
I will take this opportunity to remind you to get your new fishing license now. Last year's license is only valid until midnight April 30. When you get your license make sure you get a copy of this year's regulation book. Our area has many lakes with special regulations, and ignorance of the regulations is no excuse for violation. You will be asked about a walleye stamp when you get your new license. You do not need the stamp to fish for walleye (unlike trout were you need the stamp). This is part of a contribution for management. My opinion -- Yes -- most of us will spend that much on a cup of coffee. The fees we pay for license and taxes are well worth the benefit. We have public accesses at most lakes, public parking areas, maintenance of the ramps, fish management, and the list goes on. The "good old days" of fishing are right now thanks to the public funds spent for management. The walleye stamp is for additional funds to assure continuing to improve the resource. Walleyes are "Minnesota Gold" and opening fishing is when the gold rush starts.
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)