I use this time to check out the smaller creeks that go dry in the summer. This is the only time of year they have enough water to work them. You can set up a sluice box or just do some panning and if you slip, all your going to do is get a little wet.
I look for gullies that are in good gold producing areas and are large enough to have water running down them at least until June or so. Most of these areas are not claimed because this is the only time of year you can work them. People like to work their claim during the summer months when its warm and they can get in the water. Very few people are willing to dig up and work gravel on the side of a hot dry gully when its 95 degrees out, its much nicer to lay in the cool creek and find gold.
When looking for these gullies you still have to keep a eye out for claim markers. If there is a marker down by the creek the gully may still be on someone's claim. If so, contact the claim owner and ask permission, they may not care about the gully, and you may meet a new friend.
Be safe, have fun and get out and enjoy the beauty of the hills waking up from its winter nap!