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Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

 

Think about salmon for a moment and consider their epic journey to the ocean and back. Fueled by their instinctive need to spawn, they travel thousands of miles only to return to the very stream of their birth, to reproduce and propagate the species. Scale this down a touch and think about walleye now. Notice how they too migrate from their home lakes to inflowing or outflowing streams in the spring to reproduce. The same can be said for brook trout in the fall or rainbows in the spring. A fish's will to reproduce drives them to this end.

Anglers in the know often time their fishing efforts to correspond to these mass migrations and it's easy to see why. With concentrated numbers of mature adult fish all coming together, it can make for some pretty great fishing. All those anglers chasing the huge summer salmon runs up and down the BC coast are essentially targeting migrating salmon that have schooled together and are on their journey back to spawn. The same can be said on a smaller scale for other species like walleye. Take renowned Lesser Slave Lake, which has something like 80 percent of its entire walleye population spawning in the Heart River on the lake's extreme western end each spring.

Every opening season there will be dozens upon dozens, if not hundreds upon hundreds of boats in and around Shaw's point to get in on the fabulous walleye fishing. The reason for this is simple. Hilliard's Bay and the area around Shaw's Point is the first stop for all walleye flooding out of the Heart River right after the spawn. The area will be alive with fish and the hardest part about catching them will be to simply get a jig and minnow to the bottom - the fish take care of the rest.

For the coming ice fishing season, the brook trout will be spawning the moment you read this. And if you have a brook trout lake near you, the best time to fish it is now and the best place to fish it is near shore wherever you can find graveled areas. This is a brook trout's preferred spawning site. The same can be said about the brown trout, which too are fall spawners and the cool thing about browns, is that they're often stocked in lakes in conjunction with rainbows. The rainbows know all about the spawn and they will follow the browns in so where I find spawning browns, I usually find good populations of opportunistic rainbows nearby. Using eggs suspended near bottom on a small snell hook has caught me loads of trout.

Planning ahead, look to last ice to cash in on some amazing action centered around three spawns and four fish. The first and most important fish is, of all things, the burbot. Burbot usually spawn under the March ice and where there are spawning burbot, there are opportunistic whitefish moving in to eat the spawn and opportunistic pike moving in to eat the whites and the burbot. Set out a tip up with a massive herring and leave it alone. It will pick off the odd pike and these fish will be big. Five to twelve pounds is about average and twenties happen every year. Besides the tip up, the rest is a personal choice. I sometimes put down small wireworms to catch the whites, or sometimes I'll drop a big jig and minnow to catch the burbot themselves. It all adds up to some pretty fantastic fishing at last ice.

After the burbot spawn, look to the obvious migration routes walleye and pike will take as they too get ready to spawn at last ice. Usually a prominent stream or river will serve as a spawning site and the pike and walleye will start staging on the perimeter of these areas prior to their own spawning run.

Knowing these areas and concentrating my fishing efforts near these stream or river mouths has put me into some amazing fishing. What I do is first find the targeted stream. From there I'll look around and find the closest flat or point, or perhaps and entrance to a bay and then I start my search around there. I drill a pattern of holes and let the fish tell me what they want and where and it usually doesn't take too long to find some willing customers. Just a word of caution, any fishing done anywhere near flowing water must be done with respect because of the potential for unsafe ice conditions. Be sure and be safe before you fish.

This coming winter think about the fish you want to catch and figure out if they too migrate because of their spawn. If they do, figure out a strategic place to intercept them and cash in on some amazing fishing.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Fly Selection for Beginners

(2) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(3) New Waters

(4) Big Bad Burbot

(5) Looking Back

(6) Out of Africa

(7) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(8) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(9) The Browns of Autumn

(10) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(11) Walleye Town

(12) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(13) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(14) Going With The Flow

(15) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(16) Swinging The Fences

(17) A View From The Aerie

(18) Dixieland Delight

(19) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(20) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(21) Montana's Cool Missouri

(22) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(23) Toothy Critters

(24) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(25) Top Ten Flies

(26) Northern Exposure

(27) Home Water Lessons

(28) Chicken Of The Sea

(29) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(30) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(31) Keep It Up!

(32) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(33) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(34) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(35) Hawg Holes

(36) Saltwater Salmon

(37) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(38) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(39) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(40) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(41) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(42) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(43) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(44) Fall Walleye

(45) Wet Flies

(46) Versatility the Key to Success

(47) Grayling of the Boreal

(48) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(49) Size Matters

(50) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(51) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(52) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(53) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(54) The Point Of It All

(55) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(56) Fall Fly Fishing

(57) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(58) Big River, Big Fish

(59) Bottom Bonanza

(60) Fishing Small Flies

(61) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(62) Four Seasons of the Bow

(63) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(64) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(65) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(66) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(67) Edge Walleye

(68) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(69) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(70) Four Corners – Four Waters

(71) Chasing Pothole Trout

(72) Springtime Stoneflies

(73) The Torrents of Spring

(74) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(75) Bust Them With Bait

(76) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(77) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(78) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(79) Terrestrials

(80) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(81) Rocky Mountain High

(82) Reading the clues

(83) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(84) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(85) Fly Fishing 101

(86) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(87) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(88) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(89) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(90) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(91) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(92) Trust Your Electronics

(93) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(94) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(95) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(96) Walleye can be Humbling

(97) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(98) Winter Flyfishing

(99) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(100) Hot Fall Pike Action

(101) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(102) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(103) Frequently Asked Questions

(104) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(105) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(106) Deep Water Perch

(107) Post Spawn Brookies

(108) A Fisher's Life

(109) The River's Last Stand

(110) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(111) Coho on the Coast

(112) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(113) Summer in the Mountains

(114) Peak Walleye Season

(115) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(116) Last Ice Rainbows

(117) The Burbot Event

(118) Tackle Matching

(119) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(120) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(121) The Lure of Brook Trout

(122) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(123) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(124) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(125) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(126) The Vesatile Plug

(127) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(128) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(129) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(130) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(131) Daily Fish Migrations

(132) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(133) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(134) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(135) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(136) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(137) The Fun in Ultra Light

(138) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(139) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(140) Never Stop Learning

(141) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(142) Jigging through the Ice

(143) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(144) Rainbows on Ice

(145) The Season of Ice Begins

(146) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(147) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(148) Facts On Cats

(149) West Coast Adventure

(150) June Walleye Frenzy

(151) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(152) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(153) "Northern Exposure"

(154) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(155) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(156) Man Overboard