Strategies – Late fall & early ice

Strategies – Late fall & early ice

Dec 3, 2012

Find Your Ice Fishing Spots Now!

By Mike Pehanich

Winter is icummen in,

Lhude sing Goddamm,

Raineth drop and staineth slop

And how the wind doth ramm!    

                                                                              -Ezra Pound

Whether you welcome winter or curse it a la Ezra Pound may well depend on your attitude toward ice fishing.

I love open water, and I will fish it until my baits bounce off the skim ice.

But once it gets cold enough to walk on water…well, I’m okay with that, too!

Early ice is prime time to catch panfish. Marty Glorvigen zeroes in on the local sunfish population with his Lowrance electronics.

Transition time

This is “tweener” time in my northern Illinois area — the days-to-weeks transition period between the last open water days of the season and the first solid freeze.

Some guys are hunting. Others lament the end of the open water season.

But, if you are determined to make this ice fishing season your best ever, you are using this “change’ period for preparation and mapping local lakes – and doing so with a patience you couldn’t contrive during the run-and-gun days of summer.

“This is the time of year you still have the opportunity to go out in a boat and learn!” says Scott Glorvigen, co-host of Wired2Fish TV featured on NBC Sports. “On a lot of small bodies of water, the scouting is as simple as finding the deepest portions of the waters that will be the gathering areas for panfish like crappie and bluegill.”

The famous fishing twins – Scott and brother Marty Glorvigen – have fished countless small lakes near their homes in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Small waters are usually the first to freeze, notes Scott.

“Some of the best and most underfished bodies of water are the small lakes you drive past on your way to Leech or Winnie (Lake Winnibigoshish),” says Scott, a long-time star on the professional walleye trail. “The tendency in life is to think bigger is better, but so many small lakes offer easy entry in winter and are fun to fish.”

Brian "Bro" Brosdahl hefts a brace of perch headed for the frying pan. Pre-fish for early ice as if you were preparing for a tournament.

Size ‘em up

Open water homework during late autumn can multiply your catch rate come ice time.

Falling water temperatures find fish metabolism slowing down, and so should you!

Late fall is prime time to really learn lakes beyond identifying typical structural elements. Dig for details! Take time to find out precisely what features make those areas attractive to fish.

Key areas – for panfish in particular – are the “soft spots,” areas where hard bottom shifts to soft sediment.

“Those holes are surrounded by shallow areas,” he explains. “They collect sediment almost like dust collects in the corners of our house or garage.”

The depth of such holes will vary. On Northwoods lakes, they are often at 14- to 18-foot depths or even 25 feet deep. But they can be much shallower and more subtle depressions on many waters.

Winter fishing underscores the value Nature gives to areas we often tend to dismiss as “mud holes” or “mud flats.”

“That’s where the zooplankton and insects gather,” says Scott. “They anchor the food chain. Consequently, that’s where the bluegills and other species congregate.”

Next Scott Glorvigen discusses: “How to find ‘first ice’ hot spots”

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