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Monday, April 1, 2024

Fishing open water in March

I was hoping to find some safe ice to fish after getting back from my trip to Florida. Instead, I arrived home to record breaking temperatures that got rid of what little ice we had left around Montreal. While some of the smaller lakes up North may still have been frozen, I didn't have much time to make the long trips up there, still unsure of their ice conditions. For the first time in well over a decade, all my March fishing outings ended up being in open water.

March 4 2024:

This outing was to be my first time fishing from my float tube this season. Spot I planned to fish has some warmer water, and I've been able to landed a variety of species there in previous March outings. Mainly pike, as well as some largemouth bass, crappies, and even a couple bowfins.

After testing all my gear the previous night, I got out to my spot by mid morning. Unfortunately, one of my float tube bladders popped at the seam as I was inflating it, and without my spare tube in the car, I was forced to wade the muddy marsh on foot. 

Despite the horrendous conditions, I managed to land a small bass, pike and sunfish, all on spinners.

March 12 2024:

After replacing my float tube bladder with an older spare I had at home, I returned to fish the same spot, hoping for better results. This time, the water had gone up a few feet due to strong rains over the previous days. Conditions were very tough in the colder and muddier water, fish were not active at all. I managed 1 small pike that spit the hook right next to my float tube, and that was it for the day.

March 14 2024:

Done with my float tube spot, I decided to take my son Zev along for my first attempt at carp fishing this year. I hit my usual ice out spot, a large shallow bay that tends to draw in good numbers of carp as the ice thaws. 

We got set up around 11 am, hoping the warmest part of the day would be the most productive, as half of the bay was still covered in thawing slush. Unfortunately, I didn't manage any bites, despite using 3 rods and fishing a variety of boilie flavors, both sinking and popups. Spotted only one carp surfacing late in the day. March turning out to be slower than ever...

March 27 2024:

With the season for gamefish dwindling down in Quebec (closes on April 1st), I was faced with the choice of making a long trip up North in hopes of finding some safe ice to fish after a local cold front, or staying closer to home to fish open water, either from my float tube or on foot.

I packed my float tube and waders, and headed out to a spot that normally draws in warmer water species later in the spring. Water level was quite low, so I didn't bother launching the float tube, and opted to head out to fish on foot in my waders. 

I was hoping that some pike would be lingering over shallow weedbeds after the spawn, and I turned out was correct. And then some. 

It didn't take long for me to land my first pike of the day, on a small Mepps 3 spinner.

After another pike landed, I switched up to using a variety of Rapala Jerkbaits, and landed a few more, with the biggest going just over 30 inches.

After landing 7 pike, I moved to try a couple spots nearby, both of which didn't produce anything. After a couple hours, I returned to my hot spot, and in the warm sun, the pike bite turned on bigtime.

Sticking with the Rapala Husky Jerk , I ended up catching over a dozen more pike, and ended the day landing 20 out of 22 pike. Broke my record for most pike landed on a March day, as well as the most I've ever landed in a day while fishing on foot.

The pike ended up being way more aggressive than I imagined in the cold 36-38F degree water, and made for a perfect end to my March fishing.

Fishing season in Quebec is now closed for most gamefish, which start to re-open in May. For those of you fishing here, Quebec fishing licenses are up for renewal, which can be done online or in person at the usual sporting stores. As well, some new rules have been put in place, please be sure to have a look at them before heading out.

Wishing everyone a successful open water season!

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