The Spring Hustle

Here in Iowa, long unpredictable winters and slow-to-thaw fisheries make it very easy to fall ill with cabin fever. Seeing never-ending Facebook fish pictures and lush faraway settings don’t help. By midwinter all my fishing and kayaking gear has been cleaned, sorted, and repacked multiple times. Anticipation builds into anxiety as the snow and ice finally begins to lose its grip. Slowly, snow shovels, ice scrapers, and down jackets are put to their seasonal resting places. Before ice out, fishing, kayaking, and outdoor gear fill the welcoming spaces of the hastily put away winter gear. Finally after months of dwelling on thoughts of paddling new places and fish to be had; winter is over and the spring hustle begins.


Two trailered Jackson Fishing Kayaks roll out the confines of my dimly lit storage shed. A recently purchased Big Rig and a well worn Cuda 14 finally meet the light of day again. After a long winter of hibernating they emerge with additions of fishing gear and stickers I collected from the prior unmentionable season. Once again I set my course to a local haunt. Cold weather and water can be very unpredictable and should always be accompanied with a safety plan or a 180 degree plan B. Think your procedure over at home, not whilst pulling into the lake. I generally stick close to home during this period and typically fish ponds and lakes heavily paddled in the dog days of summer. Fortunately Iowa has many lakes and rivers, typically with many options all within an hours reach. Smaller bodies of water tend to show the progression of spring sooner. Cool water allows for clear water and glimpses of many underwater things that may not have been visible otherwise. Smaller bodies warm faster as well. For a few weeks the cold bodies of water seem totally dormant. And out of nowhere, the largemouth bass finally decide to indulge themselves on any moving creature presented to them. The anxiety is finally casted away.

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Spring creeps along. The largemouth are moving shallower. Walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass, all seem to become active in unison and make a target specie harder to determine. Water dripping of the paddle isn’t quite as cold as few weeks prior. Sweet smells begin to drift from the timber as bluebells and blossoming trees show their full explosion of colors. Foliage starts to creep out from the bank edges and paddling begins to be difficult while fine scanning the dead trees along the bank. Random vehicles parked at the landing and no accountable bank fisherman assure the telltale sign that morel mushrooms are up and everybody is going to be stomping the woods looking for them. This year I decided to remain kayak fishing for walleyes and smallmouth bass until I was completely positive the fungi had actually came out of hiding. Its never easy turning down active fish but the thought of somebody finding my hidden morel sanctuary absolutely makes rest sleepless at night! Thankfully I found many morel mushrooms. I filled the mesh JK seat accessory bag multiple times. Terrible poison ivy from the knees down assured me that it was time to go back to Kayak Fishing. Back to the Big Rig, just in time for the bull bluegills to congregate and nest. Every season has different things to offer but spring will send a kayak fisher paddling in every direction.

-Tanner Speidel

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