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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW...about ICE FISHING...

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    EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW...about ICE FISHING...

    ...if you will only ask!

    I'll begin by sharing some of the information I've accumulated over the years, including from the recent seminar in Sioux Falls.
    Hopefully, our "Ice Expert" members will join in with their vast knowledge and answer questions the rest of us may have.

    The intent of this thread is to provide information and to ask and/or respond to questions concerning fishing on the "hard water". With that said, please save photos, personal fishing experiences and video's of whales shooting through the ice eating unsuspecting Eskimos for another thread! This thread is NOT intended to sell or to promote ANY BRAND PRODUCT but should be able to provide you with the features and advantages of the "tools" available that just MIGHT make you a more successful Ice Fisher!

    Still learnin',
    Harold F.
    Report Fish/Game Violations:
    1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

    #2
    Shallow Fisheries tactics

    I'll begin with a "shallow lake" map. I left it void of "structure" to encourage the many questions this fictitious fishery may provide with those features. Or, void of them!



    A recent question posted on the Fishing Forum was about using sonar in shallow fisheries. Most locators used in ice fishing provide either a 9* transducer- up to a 20*. Expect to see "dual" transducers the norm in the future!

    At the recent Ice Seminar in Sioux Falls, we were reminded the difference (advantages AND disadvantages) in using a 9* (which provides a "cone" of detection from the transducer to the "bottom" of the fishery) and a 20* transducer. Obviously, in shallow water you will have a wider "cone" at the bottom which will obviously provide a greater chance of detecting fish!

    That is, assuming the bottom is somewhat FLAT! But I'm getting ahead of myself!

    In a shallow fishery (not unlike the many Sandhills Lakes in Nebraska) if you don't have a topo map available, I believe it is important to begin by drilling LOTS OF HOLES! I won't drill any close to another until after I determine what I already have! Of course, one can "wet the ice" and place the transducer on the ice and "read through it" in many cases, which might influence where you are "pre-drilling"!

    Even with a 20* transducer, in the lake above as an example, that doesn't give you much of a view at the bottom. So, the odds of finding fish directly below the hole is slim at best. It's possible that the auger scared 'em away, and equally possible that it ATTRACTED fish, as well! But the "view" may not show them!

    Don't give up and go to the next drilled hole- drop down your jig/teardrop and AGGRESSIVELY "pound" the water. In fact pounding the BOTTOM is even better! Freeze your lure and see what COMES INTO VIEW! If nothing shows after a decent effort is made, THEN head off to another hole and REPEAT!

    I promise you, bringing fish IN is as much fun as fishing over a school of fish! Getting them to take your bait is for another "installment" to this thread!

    Last note about "cones". We were reminded that the "cones" are NOT as viewed in drawings with straight lines down the sides. It was explained that the sides are more like "clouds", puffy edges to the bottom. And if you don't have a "flat" bottom, the "signal" beaming up and down IS affected by structure (like the ledge in the lake sample above at 3' and 6'). The "return" will begin at the first bounce off the ledge within the "cone"! A perfect reason for using a 9* instead of a 20* transducer in this hole! Or just drill a hole a couple more feet away from the "ledge"!

    Maybe Sandbilly, the "Ice Trolling Expert" will pipe in on that very successful tactic of finding fish!

    Remember, all questions are dumb if you don't know the answer. :eusa_think: So post 'em up and let the experts make you smarter! :lol:

    Still learnin'
    Harold F.
    Report Fish/Game Violations:
    1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

    Comment


      #3
      This may sound dumb.... Why waxies? they die once they hit the water anyways! why not use something like nightcrawlers? I rarely see people use nightcrawlers.
      ~Justin Smidt~

      Comment


        #4
        Not to mention that nightcrawlers (whole) would last quite a long time in cold water!
        ~Justin Smidt~

        Comment


          #5
          FLM, I suspect it depends on what you are fishing for!

          For panfish, a very popular target in NE, a nightcrawler would not only be "overkill" but I suspect a deterrent! Now, if you can find nightcrawlers in the winter... I suspect it would be a popular bait for LMB, Catfish, Walleye...

          With that said, I think it is even more popular to have an "attracter" like a spoon- to bring the fish in- and loose hanging "flavor" (a couple waxies would do!) to get the bite on bigger species.

          GREAT QUESTION!

          Harold F.
          Report Fish/Game Violations:
          1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

          Comment


            #6
            Walmart carries crawlers year round. I know a few that have tried them w little sucess. I think the work better once the rains start washing crawlers into the water. Just my observation.

            Comment


              #7
              You mention the bottom being flat or not. If you are above a ledge how does that affect your reading on your sonar. Isn't this an ideal place to be fishing?

              Another question. What if I changed the layout of the lake to be more like the lakes along I80. The ones that I have looked at seem to be a plain bowl without many ledges or dropoffs, old gravel pits if you know what I mean. Where would be the areas in these types of ponds to target?

              Comment


                #8
                great thread by the way

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by lostlure View Post
                  You mention the bottom being flat or not. If you are above a ledge how does that affect your reading on your sonar. Isn't this an ideal place to be fishing?

                  Another question. What if I changed the layout of the lake to be more like the lakes along I80. The ones that I have looked at seem to be a plain bowl without many ledges or dropoffs, old gravel pits if you know what I mean. Where would be the areas in these types of ponds to target?
                  Keep in mind that as far as structure is concerned it isn't always massive changes that will cause fish to key on it. It can be a simple 1' ledge that is rather subtle that will do it. In many of the I80, or barrow pits, there is actually a fair amount of bottom structure from the leavings of the dredge. It isn't always a dramatic 4' rise or drop, sometimes it's a very shallow transition. One of the pits that I'm very familiar with is a barrow type pit that has essentially a 7 acre surface area with the east and south bottoms being fairly gradual, with the north and west being fairly steep. There are times that fish will key to a sort of shallow flat at the 8' line, for a grand total of about three feet, then it resumes it's gradual descent to 30'.
                  In terms of being above a ledge, it depends on your location for the vertical approach. Sometimes, yes, if you can present directly to that transition, as well as one side or the other it's great positioning. Though, fish aren't always going to be keyed to that ledge. That said, I haven't ice-fished with any consistency for about 5 years now. This, however, will be the year which is for another thread.
                  "If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." John Gierach

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Fishloveme View Post
                    This may sound dumb.... Why waxies? they die once they hit the water anyways! why not use something like nightcrawlers? I rarely see people use nightcrawlers.
                    Waxies, spikes, and mousies best resemble what bluegill are chowing on all winter -- Zooplankton and Amphipods. Also paler colors - cream and smokey colors resemble them best. The lighter colors of waxies hit that mark. Other advantages : easy to store, inexpensive, and the perfect "bite size". I have used crawlers before but wax worms out fish them every time. If it aint broke dont fix it.

                    It really does not matter if they are alive or not. Very subtle movement is all you need if any. Mimic the action of zooplankton. Little hops with longer pauses inbetween - 1-3 inches or up to a foot or more.

                    On a side note, I caught a 22" bass on a full nightcrawler on a tip-up once - I have also caught lots of fish on Bazooka bubble gum.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      First of all, THANK YOU ALL for the EXCELLENT questions AND responses!

                      I'll tackle lostlures questions, but PLEASE add YOUR input, as well!

                      Originally posted by lostlure View Post
                      You mention the bottom being flat or not. If you are above a ledge how does that affect your reading on your sonar. Isn't this an ideal place to be fishing?
                      Originally posted by lostlure View Post
                      If you are "beaming down" on the side of a rock pile, or a ledge sticks out above the bottom and "interacts" with the "cone", the signal will NOT give you a proper reading of the true bottom. By changing to a lesser degree (*) transducer, the "cone" may "miss the ledge" and give you a clean reading from the same hole. Of course, you can always make a new hole a couple feet further from the ledge if you are like most of us and don't have a "dual transducer! Everything ABOVE the ledge will be proper, but you won't know if there are fish below that point. I should draw a picture... hope this helps. Of course, the BEST "tool" in a shallow fishery with rock piles and ledges would be a CAMERA, something I hope one of our "experts" will discuss later in this thread! Anyone out there proficient with their underwater cameras?

                      Another question. What if I changed the layout of the lake to be more like the lakes along I80. The ones that I have looked at seem to be a plain bowl without many ledges or dropoffs, old gravel pits if you know what I mean. Where would be the areas in these types of ponds to target?

                      I've mapped most all of the I-80 lakes from Shelton to Hershey... and none of them are a "bowl"! Many have a deeper hole in one corner (Bufflehead, Key West, Kea Lake, the "old" Blue Hole East to name a few) and the rest of the lake is fairly consistant depth. IF they have a lot of weed growth- like Key West, fishing outside the "hole" can be difficult. That's where the boat in the open water helps- to find the suttle changes that may hold fish. Of course, using Key West as an example, I drill holes "a plenty" around the "hole" where I suspect a "road" for fish to travel might be. The middle of most of these I-80 lakes are NOT the deepest parts of the lake!!!

                      While topo's help, (THANK YOU, NGPC!!) I've found some "humps" not shown in a couple I-80 Lakes, and they are "on the list" for this ice season! Not so much for the actual hump, but for what is available around it!

                      Harold F.


                      Report Fish/Game Violations:
                      1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Lostlure, I should also add that after I do my "pre fishing" hole drilling, IF I find a tree, rock pile... (we'll deal with WEEDS later!) I'm likely to drill two or three holes around that spot. Even before I attempt to "call in" fish! Some "set up camp" immediately. It's all good...

                        Unless someone beats me to it (PLEASE! HA) I'll post a drawing in the morning.

                        Harold F.
                        Report Fish/Game Violations:
                        1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Wow, i'm in awe. I have to get into it this year!
                          Meat is murder, tasty tasty murder.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            :IDK:

                            It boils down to the more viewing options on a transducer, the more diverse a flasher becomes.

                            Like Harold said the ability to narrow down a beam angle on sharp breaks will reduce the dead zone area. Lowering gain can also help in viewing drop offs. By reducing input power, signal is less likely to be masked from return of the highest overall feature. Same with brush and weeds. Smaller cone angle and less input and/or output power will reduce signal clutter.

                            I know I have failed you Harold, so here is a better description.
                            http://vexilar.com/pages/support/sup...rticle_006.php

                            Homework on all this is great but there is no substitute for experience. Spend some time on the ice in these scenarios and learn to read what the flasher is/isn't telling you. Best option is to have a visual, either sight fishing or with a camera to fully comprehend flasher display.

                            At this point in time I would rate a flasher as the single most important tool used in ice fishing.

                            dc

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Thanks Harold this looks promising. As one who fishes the resevoirs around lincoln, I am unfamiliar mostly with the sandpits. Given a good map however one always can get a good start. I know all lakes have structure (ledges, dropoffs, flats, points, reefs, weedlines, etc.) and fishable objects (sunken trees, sunkenboats, large rocks, flooded trees, etc). Here around Lincoln, given the absence of weeds or wood or rocks (except the dams)I like to fish on or near the dropoffs. Move down the the edge of the dropoff and you will eventually find some gills, or at least pickup some from some of your holes. The crappie, absent wood, seem to like to roam the basins (expecially the white crappie) following shad if present, making shallow moves at dark. I never had the power augur to make lots of holes, so I like to scout the lakes in oct, nov. in my canoe (when my old body has the energy), looking for likely fish and likely edges and or wood or brush piles. I look forward to your future postings.

                              luck
                              Frank

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