Well I wasn’t sure we would have much to write about his week but Mother Nature took a turn and gave us a present. Cold weather, and it looks like we are going to have safe fishable ice by this weekend. With many area lakes now freezing over anglers should be able to get out on some of their favorite early ice hot-spots and give ice-fishing a try. Typically anglers heading out on first ice will be targeting walleyes and panfish with a few guys going after northern pike.
Angler’s looking at targeting walleyes this early in the year should target shallow weeds and muddy bays with less than 5 feet of water. A typical set up will consist of several tip-ups baited up with golden shiners or sucker minnows strategically placed along break lines and weed edges. I generally start out running my tip-ups farther away from any shoreline structure early on, and as the day moves into nighttime I move my tip-ups closer to shoreline structure. The key to success here is to make sure you have all your holes pre-drilled before dark so the move is quick and quiet so it doesn’t disturb shallow running walleyes.
For you northern pike guys I would use the same technique mentioned above but I would use a heavier leader line and fish primarily during daylight hours. Then right before dark switch over to lighter leaders and smaller hooks and get ready for the night-time walleye bite. Kind of a two for one set-up!
Panfish anglers have a lot of options right now as the fish are aggressive with the first ice and readily feeding. The lake that you are fishing will determine where the fish are holding, but with a little scouting you should be able to put together a pattern that will work. Some area lakes have abundant weeds and that is where the panfish are primarily going to be holding right now. But lakes without weeds will tend to force the fish out over open water at this time of the year and finding panfish in 10 to 16 feet of water is not uncommon. Use your electronics, drill a lot of holes and cover water. This is the best advice I can give you. Don’t get too caught up in changing baits and lures right now either. This early in the year, if the fish are down there they will eat what you give them.
With Christmas right around the corner now is a good time to look at a new rod from Elk River Rods. Open water and ice fishing they have the best rods on the market. And with Christmas coming they are offering some great discounts! Check them out on the web at: elkrivercustomrods.com or call them at: 715-339-4209 and tell them Phil sent you.
Have a great week,
Hooksetters Guide Service
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