by Guest Blogger: AMFisH guy

Hello to all the fishing enthusiast’s and anglers that enjoy fishing at Island Lake Conservation Area in Orangeville! My name is Billy(also known as The AMFisH guy) and I am a blogger in the fishing space, who focuses on educating and sharing fishing knowledge with fellow anglers.   Having been a Toronto resident my entire life, I grew up with a big passion for fishing and have been fishing for 30 plus years now. I discovered Island Lake in Orangeville several years ago when a close friend of mine who moved to the area and I have to admit I was quite taken by this amazing little fishery!  It was so close to home and it quickly became my #1 spot for many springs and summers in a row.  In this article I will be sharing a lot of helpful fishing information for catching more fish in the spring months, so let’s jump right into things!

Have you not been catching enough fish in the early months of the spring season?  Well there are a few things to keep in mind in the earlier fishing season and bait size is at the top of the list!   Once we come out of the winter months and cooler temps we get excited about fishing, which is a great thing but there are some things we as anglers must focus and analyze, with the key thing being observing the baitfish, specifically paying attention to their current size.

Spring is all about rejuvenation and growth, so the key is to realize that baitfish are their smallest in these early season months.  What we need to do as anglers to produce more fish catches, is to make sure we match our bait size to the bait in the water.  This means observing the baitfish at the start of the season, looking at how they move, estimating their size this means length and width and from here you can look at the baits you have and match accordingly.  Some tips to do this easily are to have a look in the water around the boat rental docks and shoreline of Island Lake, to see what species of small fish you find and make a note of their size, as that will be the most critical thing to note. I would also suggest observing the baitfish around the areas you decide to fish on outings, as knowing what size of bait is in that exact area will also help you choose a good size bait.

By simply observing the bait in the water, you can drastically increase your fish catch ratio by as much as 50% or more!  Fish have feeding habits that are driven by various tools they use, sense of smell, touching and mouthing at bait with their mouths, using their lateral line senses that pick up vibration/movement and their eyes which in most cases is what many fish species use first to feed.  We as anglers need to trick them into having a reason to go after our bait.   If they are used to feeding on a specific food source, lets say minnows of a 2 1/2 inch size in the early months, then we will need to throw a similar size bait at the fish. The fish will always give us the signs of how they want a bait and when they want it, we just need to figure this part out once we hit the water.

Here is a link to one of my short videos that will give you a much clearer idea of how to choose sizes of baits for spring fishing:

If the bait you choose is close in size to what the fish are seeing on a daily basis that is swimming around and your bait moves like the bait in the water with the overall bait profile being very close, that bait will then automatically blend in with the real bait which increases our chances of fish striking.  You will want to stick to smaller baits, in the 3″ and shorter range, as well as using slimmer profile baits with not too much body bulk, as bait will not have had a lot of time for much body growth so using chunky style baits is best left for late spring and onward.  Spring activity is quite unique as small fry bait fish will be scurrying around everywhere, insects will be flying around and landing on the waters surface, all round a busy time of this rejuvenation season, so some great choices for baits are ones that mimic these same behaviors.  By using small simple and easy to fish baits like in-line spinners, beetle spins and spoons in very natural looking colour patterns, you capitalize on the current behavior of various food sources that fish gorge on in that spring season. Coming out of a long, cold and dark downtime the fish light up at this new time of year and can feed rather intensely due to all the available food growing around them.  Any baitfish from the previous year either were lucky enough to have survived the harsh reality of being eaten and have grown to a decent size or they were eaten.  Come spring fish will spawn the next generation of baitfish which will start off a very small fry of bait. Now taking this into consideration in the early months, the best approach for success in to match that same size of bait with your lures.

Below are a few pictures of the baits mentioned above that have worked well for me on Island Lake in the early spring: Strike King chartreuse spinner bait, Williams spoons, Blue Fox vibrax inline spinners, Johnson beetle spins and Mepp’s inline spinners which are in the 2″ to 2.5″ size range that you want a bait to be in during early spring.  These baits offer a very natural looking bite size meal to fish and they all give off some really good vibration which you can’t use enough off in the early spring to attract those fish strikes.

Strike King chartreuse spinnerbait – this small size spinnerbait will definitely produce fish!

Blue Fox vibrax inline spinner in silver and blue – this is a good choice for a bait that gives off some blade flash but also offers a secondary colour flash from the baits body.

Blue Fox all silver inline spinner – great for that natural bait fish colour that will give off a lot of flash.

Mepps Anglia inline spinner – this is more of a natural colour pattern that can resemble a small fry perch or sunfish.

Mepps Black Furry inline spinner – simple looking bait that can resemble a scurrying bait fish and even a bug moving along in the water.

Johnson Beetle Spin – green and black – great spring bait and simple to use! This small bit size bait is hard for fish to pass up and it offers a lot of vibration along with a natural look.

Johnson Beetle Spin – orange and black.

Casting/jigging silver, chartreuse and pink spoon – small spoons like this are easy to use with a cast and retrieve presentation. They mimic small bait fish swimming around.

All silver casting/jigging spoon – Can’t go wrong with an all silver spoon, a must for every tackle box!

These may be small baits and you might be thinking that bigger fish would not go after baits this size, but many big fish will never pass up on an easy simple meal that they have to expend very little effort to gobble up! I have caught quite a few big pike on Island Lake in the spring on these same baits, some were in the 36 plus inch range as you can see in the photo below of an Island Lake pike that I caught on a similar spinnerbait as the one referenced in the photo above.

Nice big Island Lake pike caught on a small Strike King chartreuse spinnerbait in the early spring a few years back.

When it comes to where to fish on Island Lake in the spring months, the answer is quite simple you don’t have to travel far at all!  Heading out from the main rental boat launch area, you can pretty much fish anywhere along the immediate shorelines within a 100 meter stretch from the launch. Most species of fish will be relatively close to one another in these areas, so if you are targeting pike, sunfish, rockbass, largemouth bass or crappie, working your way out from the shorelines is a good way to find fish. The main focus should be to locate the newest weed growth in the lake and start fishing the open water around it, then focus in on casting to the edges of the weed lines.   Due to spring being a busy time for fish moving around, the baits listed above in this article are all good choices for catching the various species in Island Lake. If you are not very well versed in using artificial baits, I would highly suggest trying some of these ones as they are all easy simple to use lures, but you can also go with using some live bait like worms and minnows that are sold in the rental hut of Island Lake.

As the season progresses you will continue to do the same thing by matching bait size to what you see in the water, but this also applies to bait you see outside the water.  Do this same examination of frogs, small birds, rats, mice, snakes, turtles, any food source we know fish go after and match your bait sizes to what you see in nature. You will want to slowly increase the size of your baits, both the length and girth of the baits you are using to once again match the size of the bait as it grows. If you are mainly seeing smaller brown frogs, then you pull out your smaller 2 inch version of a brown frog and use that.  I can’t tell you how well doing this works, as it is the best way for us to confuse our bait in with what the fish are seeing all the time, no greater way to catch more fish!

The two things to have at the top of the list for what baits fish will react to most are, does the bait have a body profile that the fish can relate to having seen or see regularly and two does that bait move and swim like something the fish have seen and reacted to in their natural environments. These two things are so critical when it comes to catching or not catching fish and they are far more important than color or scent, which fall much lower on the list.  I would suggest looking through your tackle boxes and bait trays, to find all the baits you have between that 2 inch to 3 inch size and make sure these are lean skinny body style baits. This range in size is a great range to start with and why the baits need to be lean and skinny is that bait fish will not have grown much at all, so they will not have a chunky body style yet, they will be very skinny and with a long styled body.  Find these types of baits and add them into a spring “go to” fishing tackle tray!

This early season is a great time of year to catch some good fish and plenty of them so think small, natural and noisy to get them going.   You can also work these baits pretty quickly if the water temperature is slightly warmer than usual, spring baitfish and insects are not moving around slowly they are full of life and all over the place!   Get those small bait selections ready and enjoy the results they will bring. This great time of year to catch high numbers of fish and some good quality fish only lasts a short while, so you don’t want to be out there using the wrong baits and missing out on that hungry spring feeding frenzy!  Keeping things small and simple for the first couple of months definitely increases your chances of many successful fishing days on Island Lake and some very memorable fishing days/photos that may not happen again as every season brings it’s new challenges.

Hope you found this article helpful…tight lines everyone!

Billy…The AMFish guy…

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