Talkin' Fishin' column: Keep moving for more fish
As we get farther into the ice fishing season, it becomes important that we vary our methods for catching fish a little bit. Early in the season when snow cover was light and the ice was thin, it was a good idea to sit on a spot for awhile. Now that the snow and ice are thicker, and the fish have been worked over some, in many bodies of water it's a good idea to keep moving if you want to catch more fish through the ice. Here are some ideas as to how you can be more successful with your ice fishing right now and for the next few weeks.
During the first few weeks of the ice fishing season the fish are kind of spooky. They've got people walking directly over them, so it's understandable why they're spooky.
Now they're not so spooky. The thicker ice and snow cover hides the movement from above, and they've probably also become accustomed to the overhead noise from vehicles driving over the ice. An angler can move around more, and that ability to go to the fish instead of waiting for the fish to come to you is very helpful.
Here's what you need for increased mobility on the ice. You need either a portable shelter or a bucket to move from hole to hole. I prefer the portable shelter. They're more comfortable, and they're warmer. The Frabill units with the Glide Trax feature pull easily, have plenty of room for gear, and they're very, very comfortable to fish from.
Of course you need an auger to make holes with.
Sonar will help you catch a lot more fish. Sonar will show you if fish are below your hole. If fish are there, you stick around a little longer. If no fish show up in ten or fifteen minutes, it's time to try another hole. Some anglers don't even spend that much time at their various holes, although they will re-visit the hole several times in the course of a day or an afternoon. The MarCum LX-5 and LX-3tc are outstanding sonar units. The color display is easy to see, and they enable you to see even those fish that are hugging the bottom.
And of course you need a rod and some baits.
We start at our first hole. If we don't see any activity, we move, and we keep moving until we find activity. Holes should be drilled at different depths, and at different locations on a structure. Some should be near the drop-off, some up on the top of the structure and some at the base of the structure. Cover your bases.
If you're fishing a popular structure that sees lots of fishing activity, you should spend more time out near the edge of the area away from the fishing activity. That's where the best biters will usually be.
If you see activity on the sonar but can't get bit, try different colors, sizes, and actions until you find what the fish want.
If you're on good water, if you keep moving, and if you give the fish what they want, you're going to increase your ice fishing success, and isn't that why we go ice fishing in the first place?
(For more fish-catching information, visit fishingthemidwest.com)