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Ice is starting to pull away from shorelines at various mid-elevation waters around the state. As the ice pulls away, the sun hits the shallow water near the shore. If it doesn't get cloudy or windy, the sun can warm the water fast.
As the water warms, trout and other cold water fish move into the shallow water in search of food. And these fish are hungry—it's been awhile since they've had a decent meal.
"At many of the state's waters, spring is the very best time to fish from the shore," says Roger Wilson, cold water sport fisheries coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "It's a great time to take your kids fishing. They can catch a bunch of fish using simple techniques."
Usually lasts one to two weeks
If the sun comes out and the wind doesn't blow much, fishing during "ice off" can stay fast and furious for one to two weeks. Then, after a couple of weeks, the ice recedes even farther from the shore. As the ice recedes, water in other parts of the reservoir or lake starts to warm up too. "When that happens, the trout start to disperse and move away from the shore," Wilson says.
Your ice-off fishing experience doesn't need to last only a week or two, though—if you stay updated on which waters are starting to open, and you're willing to travel a bit, you can extend your ice-off fishing experience into May.
Wilson says lower and mid-elevation waters will open first, followed by waters at higher elevations. "Depending on which waters you'd like to fish," he says, "ice off will start anywhere from mid March to mid May."
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