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There's good fishing before, during early ice

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Winter seems to finally be here. The ponds have skimmed over and the lakes will be close behind. The long-range forecast looks like we will be making ice.

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I was able to get out on the open water over the holiday weekend with my sons, and Tuesday night with a buddy. These trips were not as productive as previous outings over the last several weeks. We did manage a couple walleyes each trip as well as experiencing a couple fish coming "unbuttoned" after being hooked and several missed bites. I was only jumping out on the water for a couple hours at a time when I had the chance.

The bite has defiantly changed, and I am sure this was weather related with a several degree drop in water temps due to the cold fronts. As we stabilize with this change, the bite will improve.

I have a history of breaking trailer taillights as we get to this stage of transition. I know this seems crazy to some, but if you are reading this as a fisherman you know exactly why we sacrifice for our sport.

The bite usually gets very aggressive right before first ice and most ice anglers know how good fishing can be during early ice. Be careful as early ice can also be a dangerous time. Carry an ice chisel with you and check the ice in front of you as you venture out to your fishing spot. Stay away from current areas such as river or creek inlets and outlets. Heavy weed growth areas also have a habit of having thinner ice, and although they can be highly productive panfish holding areas early, the ice can also be suspect. It is best to have a partner along and keep distance between you as you travel. Make sure someone knows where you are and when you will return. If you are running late it is a good idea to let your contact person know so others don't go out looking for you.

This transition time is also a great time to visit your local bait shop to pick up what you need for ice fishing, explore for Christmas gift ideas to add to your list, or pick up gifts for the outdoorsman in you life.  

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)

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