"Whether you are going fishing for the first time this year or getting prepped for a tournament, having a game plan is a major factor in the success of your outing."
As we transition into spring, many of us hit the tailraces below the dams along the Missouri River to get our open water fix while we are patiently awaiting the upper portions of the lakes to open up. Sometimes this early season fishing can be fast and furious while at other times it can keep you wondering what you are doing out there. Many walleye anglers anticipate this early season ritual as time to dust off the ol’ gear and try out the new in pursuit of Mr. Marble-Eyes himself. Unfortunately, many anglers show up to these areas without a game plan and spend much of their first trip of the year working out the kinks that could’ve been taken care of back home in the comforts of their garage.
Preparation starts long before I hit the water as it does for many professional anglers. Typical early season preparation for fishing the tailraces along the Missouri river includes checking river flows and ensuring the discharge rate is manageable with a boat at that particular location. This usually is not a problem early in the season but it can change overnight, so always check before heading out. You always want to ensure there is an open boat ramp, many times the docks may not be in place yet but the ramps are free from ice and usable. Just because you may have heard of other boats being out does not necessarily mean you can launch your 20-foot fiberglass beauty. Many of the locals venture out in their smaller aluminum boats that may be launched from non-typical locations enabling them to get out earlier than others and into spots larger boats cannot due to ice buildup. A quick call to the local bait shop should be able to answer these questions as well as if the bite has turned on.
Do your research, especially if you are heading to a new location. Review the area’s forage base, size regulations and water temps for the time of year and with the internet you should be able to find several historical reports that may help you determine which method of fishing you should perform and where.