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Ice is pulling away from the shore at mid-elevation waters across the state. As the ice leaves, the sun hits the shallow water near the shore. If the sun stays out and the wind stays calm, the water near the shore can warm quickly.
As the water warms, trout and other coldwater fish move into the shallow water in search of food. 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 best time to fish from the shore," says Roger Wilson, Aquatic Section chief 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 and simple fishing equipment."
Usually lasts one to two weeks
If the sky stays clear and the wind stays calm, fishing can be fast and furious for one to two weeks. Then, as water across the lake or reservoir warms, trout start to move away from the shore.
Your ice-off fishing experience can last a lot longer than one to two weeks, though. If you stay updated on which waters are losing ice, 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 open first, followed by waters at higher elevations. "Depending on where it's located," he says, "a body of water will typically experience ice off anywhere from mid March to mid May."
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