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Senior Member
Joined 03/27/2006

CrappieKeith's blogs, pictures and recent posts
Daily Subscription 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, I’ve been trying to get more ice fishermen to venture out on their own and search out their own fish. It’s 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 they’ve found the best spot on the lake, and fish in the pack.

I realize it’s 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 don’t 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, it’s legal to fish two or more lines per angler, and it’s something you might consider once you’ve hit the jackpot...but not while you’re in search mode.

Setting up a fish house, getting settled into it, and organizing your gear also takes too long. That’s why a truly portable fish house, like the Fish Trap, is the way to go. In many cases, if it’s a nice day, I even use my Fish Trap as a pivot point when I’m 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. I’m never far from my Fish Trap, but as long as the wind isn’t blowing too hard and it’s not really cold, I can fish faster by just standing or kneeling over each hole in turn.

If you’ve never seen a real Trap Attack, it’s 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 we’re talking to each other all the time.

How deep is it where you are?I’ve got weeds in my hole. Do you?I haven’t 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 don’t get to be the quarterback on every play. We shuffle around, getting a picture of what’s 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.

It’s 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. There’s no better way to make a new friend that you might fish with in the future.

Oh, and here’s my conservation message: Just because you catch a lot of fish doesn’t 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 don’t 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 you’re 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 you’ve 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 that’s 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.

I’m 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 that’s 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 you’re going to fish hard, and try different types of spots until you catch what you’re after, ice fishing will be a whole new sport for you. You’ll 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.
Joined 06/30/2005

nofishfisherman's blogs, pictures and recent posts
Daily Subscription Msg 2 Posted: 03:51 PM 10/12/06 (CST)
thats a good read. Portability and mobility is the key to make this work for you.

I do a simplified version of this technique since I don't have a snowmobile or four wheeler to get me from spot to spot fast.

I usually try to focus on much smaller areas then the article says. I keep the areas within walking distance. I also don't have a vexilar so if the water is shallower its easier for me to cover the different depths without needing electronics. There are some lakes like Mille Lacs that are clear enough that you can just simply drill a hole and get down on your knees and look down the hole. You can see any fish that are down there and get an idea if they are on bottom or if they are suspended. Last winter I was actually sight fishing perch on Mille Lacs in 22 feet of water. It was pretty cool.

Senior Member
Joined 03/27/2006

CrappieKeith's blogs, pictures and recent posts
Daily Subscription Msg 3 Posted: 04:01 PM 10/12/06 (CST)
I thought it to be like how I've learned to fish on my own. It's cool to see the pros fish like I do.It tells me I'm on the right track.
The locator helps me see right away if there are fish there.I drill a bunch of holes ,my buddy comes behind me to clear holes. Then each of us take our FL-8's & start reading the holes. Nothing we shout or yup here's some. Then we'll shoot the jig down to them & see if they give chase. Once we get 1 then we concentrate on that area. We went to URL & it took all day .Every hour on the hour we'd pickup & drag our gear another 50 yards.Stop drill a hole & fish it. At dusk I hear dude on the walkie go KA-Ching. I knew what that meant,I responded ,how many. He said 6,so I flew over & we ended up with 3 guys limits in 20 minutes.The hair was flying & so did the slabs.Into the bucket that is.
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