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Spring Fishing Got You in a Slump? Here’s How to Bust Out

I should have known my Spring fishing was doomed the moment I answered this question at the end of a recent fishing presentation.

“You pretty much always catch something, right? Do you ever get skunked?”

My answer was honest. It does happen on occasion, I said, though I couldn’t recall the most recent skunking off the top of my head.

On my very next trip, the fishing gods served up a helping of humble pie as I returned home empty handed. It was a somber reminder that even diehard anglers get whooped from time to time.

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What Causes the Spring Fishing Slump?

Now that I think about it, most of my skunkings have happened in the Spring. Here in Idaho, like many places, sSpring is marked by unpredictable weather. Rain, wind, fluctuating water temperatures and river levels can make it hard to plan and execute your tried-and-true fishing strategies.

I followed up my goose egg trip with one that got canceled by storms and another that only produced tiny panfish. It was official… this was a slump. But slumps are made to be broken, and I was determined not to let this one last. With a free Saturday on the horizon, I dialed up my go-to fishing partner, Caleb.

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It was time to go Spring fishing slump-busting on Brownlee, a Snake River reservoir on the Idaho-Oregon border.

I loaded my boat with bass, crappie, and catfish gear. No matter what was biting, I was going to be ready. That’s one of the keys to summer fishing, bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions and give yourself the best chance of putting some fish in the boat.

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Breaking the Spring Fishing Slump

It was a crisp, clear morning as we arrived at Brownlee. In a welcome sign, Caleb landed two monster crappies right off the boat launch while I was parking the truck.

“We’re not getting skunked today, boys!” he announced.

I took a few casts and reeled up a hilariously small crappie. The skunk was off, but my slump was still intact. We motored off in search of Brownlee’s famous flathead catfish. My hard luck continued as Caleb reeled in one 19-pound monster, and then another.

“Next one’s yours,” he said. “I can feel it.”

Like a baseball player mired in a hitting slump, the key to turning things around is patience and a positive outlook. I stayed loose by taking in the sights and sounds and enjoying Caleb’s run of success.

And then, like a hanging curveball in the heart of the plate, my opportunity arrived. A fish bumped my lure once, twice and then BOOM! My rod doubled over as it ran for deeper water.

Big flatheads play the slow game, hugging the bottom while you gradually work to regain your line. Caleb seemed even more giddy than I was, nervously scanning the water for a glimpse of this big cat.

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Photo Credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

Finally, the flathead surfaced. A huge, mottled green head and gaping, whiskered mouth never looked so pretty! At 13 pounds, he wasn’t our biggest catch of the day. But Caleb and I agreed, the slump was history.

We closed the day with some more big crappie for the frying pan, and I also wrangled a big channel catfish on my ultralight rod. The bite was never red-hot, but we worked hard enough to make it a successful day. Which, ultimately, was the important lesson this whole experience refreshed in my mind. 

Sooner or later, every angler hits a slow patch. When your slump comes, use persistence and a positive attitude to send your slump packing.

3 Tips to Bust Your Spring Fishing Slump

  1. Bring a variety of gear so you can adapt to changing conditions!
  2. Keep working hard and try new techniques if the bite is slow!
  3. Stay positive and be ready for anything, a big fish might come when you least expect it


This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Jordan Rodriguez

ABOUT Jordan

I have been fishing all my life. It is my passion and I love to share it with people. I am the author of two regular fishing columns in Idaho, contributing weekly to the Idaho Statesman in Boise and biweekly to the Times News in Twin Falls. I also teach fishing classes in the Boise area and I have been a contributor of fishing content to several other outlets, including ANGLR.com. I don't have any sponsors, but I do have a good partnership with the local Sportsman's Warehouse and I am interested in expanding my reach through additional sponsorships and opportunities.

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