Ice-out’s progression across Lindy Land has many anglers excited about open-water opportunities, and small waters offer one of the first chances to stretch your string in spring.

While it’s tempting to head for large lakes and reservoirs for your first trips of the season, these large systems are slow to shrug off winter’s cold, and take longer to warm than farm ponds and other smaller bodies of water.

In areas where freeze-out or winterkill is a concern, look for ponds and small lakes that have plenty of water flowing through them. For example, fish can survive the winter in a 20-acre pond that’s barely over 6 feet deep if an incoming tributary delivers a steady supply of dissolved oxygen.

Extended warm spells with air temperatures reaching 60 or 70 degrees help warm these small fisheries fast, as do warm March rains.

Panfish such as bluegills and crappies storm fast-warming shallows to feed as water temperatures climb.

In clear water conditions, the fish are easy marks for anglers slinging bobber rigs with a Lindy Little Nipper or various ice jigs tipped with waxworms or soft plastic trailers. Live baits such as angleworms and minnows work well on plain hooks, too. Casting and slowly retrieving a small inline spinner, Lindy Watsit Spin or lightweight Lindy Jig and Jig Spinner can help you catch fish in murkier water.

Other types of fish join the party, too, and where open seasons allow can provide additional options. Largemouth bass, channel catfish and northern pike are among the species happy to celebrate spring’s arrival by raiding shallow water.

If you’re in a knot about where to wet a line, check with local bait shops or visit your city or state fisheries department’s website for a list of small public fishing lakes in the area.