Msg 1 Posted: 03:34 PM 10/12/06 (CST)
I ran into this today & it sounds alot like the things I do& how I approach finding the crappies.Everything he does is for a reason& it takes many days out to get to this level.|
Conducting Your Own Search
The secret to finding your own fish under the ice.
By Dave Genz
Lately, Ive been trying to get more ice fishermen to venture out on their own and search out their own fish. Its so common for people to go to the end of the plowed road, so to speak, to seek out groups of other anglers and simply assume theyve found the best spot on the lake, and fish in the pack.
I realize its not enough just to ask you to find your own fish.So here are some tips for conducting your own search this winter.
* Take on a reasonable amount of water.
To be successful finding your own fish, you have to take on a reasonable-sized lake, or a reasonable portion of a larger lake. That way, you can check out all or most of the high-percentage spots in the time you have to fish.
I talk about using lake maps for ice fishing, and here is where the use of a contour map is critical. Even before you leave home, study the map. You might find a large bay, for example, that could easily hold fish.
Plan to drill holes and check the deepest water in the bay, for fish that have sought out deep water, and for those that are suspended in mid-depths. Check the points that create the bay, and the inside turns that go into the bay.
Try to limit yourself to an hour of fishing in any one distinct area. An hour in the deep basin of the bay, an hour on one point, an hour on the other point, and so forth. The process is active; you are drilling holes, checking depth, looking for weeds or other cover, fishing, looking for fish, moving on if you dont catch what you came for.
This is so different than the tradition of drilling one hole and waiting for the fish to find you. This is fishing the way you do it out of a boat in the summertime over the frozen surface of the same lakes.
In my opinion, even putting down two lines takes too long. In many states, its legal to fish two or more lines per angler, and its something you might consider once youve hit the jackpot...but not while youre in search mode.
Setting up a fish house, getting settled into it, and organizing your gear also takes too long. Thats why a truly portable fish house, like the Fish Trap, is the way to go. In many cases, if its a nice day, I even use my Fish Trap as a pivot point when Im quickly searching for fish. We hit a spot and drill a dozen or more holes, moving from one to the next with only a rod and the depthfinder. Im never far from my Fish Trap, but as long as the wind isnt blowing too hard and its not really cold, I can fish faster by just standing or kneeling over each hole in turn.
If youve never seen a real Trap Attack, its hard to imagine how efficient you can be. I often fish with maybe three friends. We hit a spot and one person fires up the power Lazer auger and handles the job of drilling holes. The other three anglers take on the job of quickly fishing as many holes as possible, and were talking to each other all the time.
How deep is it where you are?Ive got weeds in my hole. Do you?I havent seen a fish yet. Anybody else see any?
This is not a time to be selfish about who is catching what. We take turns being the hole-driller, and each person accepts a role, like teammates on a football team. We know we dont get to be the quarterback on every play. We shuffle around, getting a picture of whats going on, until we hit a distinct area that is holding active, biting fish.
Then, you see Fish Traps huddle tighter and tighter together, and we get down to serious catching.
Its hard to unravel the mystery of a lake by yourself. Fish as a team. If you go alone, team up with somebody you run into on the lake. You go deeper, let the other guy go shallower. Check with each other. Work together. Theres no better way to make a new friend that you might fish with in the future.
Oh, and heres my conservation message: Just because you catch a lot of fish doesnt mean you have to keep a lot of fish. Keep what you will use for one meal, and release the rest without taking them out of the water. As you gain in confidence, you realize you can go out and catch fish again tomorrow, and I hope that feeling allows to get a good feeling about letting fish go. You dont have to measure your ability by the pound!
* Always keep the faith that there are active fish somewhere in the lake.
You have to resist the temptation to sit over fish that you can see on your depthfinder, assuming that you will figure out what they want if you sit there long enough. For some people, the use of a depthfinder becomes a liability, because they refuse to leave a fish after even an hour of trying to coax it into biting. I know, because when I first started using an FL-8, I was the same way.
The first time you drop a lure down a new hole is the highest percentage time for catching a fish. The more time you spend in a hole without a bite, the less chance youre going to catch a fish out of that hole.
Now, there are days when fishing is just tough, and you have to tough it out over a few fish and coax a few reluctant bites. But you only know this if youve been fishing a lake for a number of days in a row, and you know the fish in that lake well enough to make a reasonable guess thats the case. The first time you fish a new lake for the first time you fish a lake after not being there for more than a few days you have to assume there are biters somewhere, and keep searching until you find them or run out of time.
* Fishing the edges of the pack can pay off.
Im not against heading for the cluster of fish houses, or the gang of bucket-sitters, especially when I first get to the lake. I want to see what they are fishing: is it a shallow weed flat, a dropoff, a deep hole? I look around on the ice and talk to people about what species of fish, and what size, they are catching, or had been catching before things slowed down.If the bite is hot, by all means, get in on it. Be courteous, and keep a reasonable distance from the others as you drill your holes. But, most of the time, things will be relatively slow.Try fishing the edges. A lot of times, fish simply move off a little ways in response to the commotion at the community spot. You can often find good fishing by making a large circle outside the pack.
So thats it, in a nutshell. There are many little things that make a difference, and experience teaches you a lot. But if you take the ice with the attitude that youre going to fish hard, and try different types of spots until you catch what youre after, ice fishing will be a whole new sport for you. Youll be amazed how warm you stay, how engaged you feel mentally, and how rewarding it is when you discover your own spot.
You will discover the feeling of satisfaction that comes from catching a fish, looking around, and realizing that you have the spot all to yourself.
IF IT'S WET...IT'S CATCH'N FISH