Brad Laabs: Weather forcing anglers to fish in close proximity
Over the last number of weeks, anglers on the ice have been mostly fishing in close quarters. The cold and wind have limited the amount of hole jumping, standing out in the open, or sitting on buckets on the ice. That should start to change the next several weeks.
Multiple anglers fishing in close quarters can create conflicts like tangled lines and sonar unit interference.
When limited to fishing in the ice houses or the portables, some ice anglers feel limited in the number of flashers that can be used and get frustrated with interference problems. Most flashers now have the ability to change frequencies and adjust sensitivities. Even the lower end and less expensive models have these features. Playing with those adjustments should take care of your partner stepping on your ability to read and interpret your unit.
In shallow water, the cone angle doesn’t have the ability to spread the read or cross read to other units as easy or frequent, but it does happen. The key here will be to turn your sensitivity or gain down to a level that you are just able to read your lure.
In deeper water, especially on hard bottom areas, gravel, or boulders, the bounce back of the signal can cause significant interference. The first obvious adjustment is to have one person continue to change frequencies until both units read with minimal interference. The second easy adjustment is to turn the sensitivities or gains down on all units so that they are at a level that they can just start to pick up the action of your lure. Simple things like moving the transducer to the farthest edges of the hole, even though it may only make a difference of about a foot more distance between the transducers, can make a difference in reducing conflict between the units. Pulling the transducers from the bottom of the hole up into the hole can limit the cone angle for each unit and eliminate cross read between sonars.
Other considerations to give each angler the advantage of the use modern fishing electronics, is to have an underwater camera down as an alternative. Fishing the combination of flasher type units and a camera can make for a totally interference free fishing event.
Fishing side by side in a portable will not require the use of multiple units, and although many will still fish two units, you can get by with one. Auger a hole in between the holes you and your partner are fishing and drop the transducer in that center hole. Turning up the sensitivity or increasing the gain will strengthen the signal and should pick up both lures. Pay attention to which one is yours! You will see fish when they come into the area and both anglers can adjust and get ready for the bite.
When starting out in the cold mornings you may be limited to staying in the confines of the fish house or portable. We will still have some very cold overnight temperatures over the next week even though we will have some dramatically warmer daytime temperatures than we have had all winter. Our days won’t reach their highs until late in the afternoon. Now, when our daytime temperatures get warmer, it makes it possible to spread out and fish in the open. The power of the sun starts to make a big difference in outside comfort on the ice.
When you are in the house, pay attention to where fish are coming from, and where they are going. If fish are taking the bobbers down, watch the direction the fish are swimming with the bait as this can clue you in on areas to check when you start to spread out.
We are in mid-February and just starting to get a break in our weather, so don’t worry, there is still plenty of ice and plenty of time left to get on the ice. The end of April (typical ice off date off our area) is still a couple months away. We can’t beat this winter, we might as well join in on it!
(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)