Rick's picks

Outdoors Rick Windham writes about the outdoors from North Platte. He can be reached at RWmedia@atcjet.net

It has been a semi-typical Nebraska spring weather week. We’ve had some very spring-like temperatures, the wind impacted everything outdoors and now the forecast says rain, maybe a slight chance of snow. Yep, springtime in Nebraska.

Another sign of spring is the number of pickups and SUVs I see pulling boats. That is not an accident. Open water is calling anglers.

Speaking of open water ... have you noticed how fast the ice is coming off area waters? Any ice that is left is totally suspect, if you are thinking about ice fishing. Unless we get a spring cold snap, and a deep cold snap, I think ice fishing is done until next winter.

Almost all the ice is off of Sutherland reservoir. Maloney still has ice covering maybe 75 percent of the lake, but it won’t last much longer.

The weather has been conducive to bird migration. Literally millions of birds, snow geese and sandhill cranes, in particular, have settled into the Platte valleys.

Thousands of snow geese are using Sutherland Reservoir right now. The birds will raft up on the water at night and fly out to feed in surrounding fields during the day. There are some hunting opportunities here.

Fishing is slowly picking up in the area. I have reports of fishing in the inlets at Maloney, and Sutherland has produced some keepers. There is some fishing activity on the main body of Sutherland Reservoir now that you can get a boat out in the lake. Neither location has any consistent fishing success at the moment, but it will continue to get better. I also have some report of walleye and sauger fishing picking up in the Tri-County Canal system. The best spots to fish right now are below the checks in the slack water. Small jigheads tipped with some type of curly tail lure or live bait is working.

Some trout are being caught along the shorelines of Lake Ogallala and in the Nebraska Public Power District canal below the diversion. Salmon eggs and Power Bait are catching most of the trout in the lake and canal. Anglers are also catching some trout below the Lake Ogallala dam in the North Platte River. Spinners and crankbaits are doing best for river trout.

For early fishing, the best way to fish is to go slow and small. I prefer small lure types that resemble minnows, tadpole and insects. I also focus on shallower waters along northern banks. These areas warm up first and that draws in smaller fish. Where small fish go, bigger fish follow.

Look for calmer water on the downwind side of a body of water. The wind pushes food sources downwind and into these areas. Hungry fish take advantage of that. Capitalize on this trait.

Look for fish in sheltered areas, too. Fish will seek some shelter from big wave action and wind. They will hold in behind whatever type of break they can find and watch for something tasty to be washed or blown by. Give them something to go after.

Get ready for your spring activities. It won’t be long now.

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