Outside Chance ...

Crazy winter for ice fishing

What a winter, early snow then a green Christmas. Bitter cold and then flood concerns. Where that leaves us for the balance of ice fishing season is hard to predict. I urge extreme caution on many of our lakes. Some parts of lakes are rock solid while on the same lakes there are areas near brush where I find water unsafe.

With that said, here are a few tips that might be of help. Top anglers preach about green weeds so pound that into your memory bank. Green weeds hold fish all year. Not always the most but always some fish.

Fish need to eat; think of a large weedbed as a large buffet. A green weedbed holds all types of aquatic life, various types of plankton and more. A dying or dead weedbed does just the opposite.

Drop-offs are an edge and fish like edges. Look at a topographic map, locate the largest shallow flats on the map, and then look for the area where the contour lines are the tightest and with the shortest distance from the flats to the deeper water. Think of this as a highway.  Fish like the shortest route from the deeper water to the dinner table.

Points are like the unsung hero or similar to Rodney Dangerfield, no respect.  Points that you can see extending out from the shoreline or underwater points-only visual with a graph or a topographic map hold fish all year.

Fish can be anywhere on the point or suspended just off of the point. Trust me, points hold fish. Learn to fish a point and you will come home with more fish. Fish the entire point, top to bottom and shallow to deep. Open water angling a graph will show this in 2 minutes.

Fishing deep points or deep water requires a bait that can fall quickly. A favorite of mine is the Skandia Pelkie and Moon jigs. These are tungsten jigs that fall fast and have a smaller profile. A good search lure is the Smelt Sticks with its drop chain. Great on perch and walleye.

Another great spot is a deep flat. Perch love flats and will often be found on a deep flat. The problem with a deep flat in the winter is that it takes time to pick it apart.

Last location: canals and man- made channels. Canals and channels are great last ice and first ice locations. Due to their shallow nature these spots are best fished when anglers can spread out. If you can get away with it, cut 6 or 8 holes and move quietly from hole to hole.

A stealth approach is best when fishing canals and channels. Some anglers leave slush in their holes when fishing very shallow water. Sunlight is greatly reduced.

Lure choices are basic with me. I love teardrops with the Moon Glow series a favorite. Moon Glitter, Black Moon and Glitter and Glow my year around favorites. My love affair with teardrops goes back nearly 40 years and I use them 12 months of the year.

Small plastics are another favorite. I love the Whip R Snap plastics year around. My thought process, buy what you can use the majority time of the year. Last, consider a Skandia Shrimp Fly or some type of ice fly. Once again, I use Ice Spider, Hackle Jig and Ice ants from Stopper Lures all year long. Consider tipping your jigs, flies and teardrops with a spike, mousie or a wax worm.

While I long for the day when the boat gets dumped in, there is  plenty of time to ice fish. With this crazy winter some of our normal patterns have not occurred. Hit the four areas mentioned and do not fall in love with any of them unless they produce. Big mistake is staying on a location when the biter is not there. Fifteen to 30 minutes is plenty of time.