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Early ice fishing is getting under way on the Chain, and many anglers simply love heading out on the frozen lakes in pursuit of early winter action.
Early season ice fishing can be hard to beat. It seems panfish, as well as predator fish like walleye, northern pike, and bass, are a lot more willing to cooperate in the early part of the season than in mid-January or February.
While early ice usually produces the best action of the winter, I wasn’t among the first on the ice. I usually waited a little bit to be sure of the ice conditions. Two inches of ice will usually hold a man weighing about 180 pounds. But keep in mind that even though the ice may be two or three inches in one spot, it may only be half an inch 10 feet away.
Three-to-four inches of ice will hold a couple of guys walking single file. Maintain a reasonable distance from one another if ice conditions are like that and carry a rope along if you should run into a problem. Also remember, don’t panic if you break through.
As I mentioned before, the early part of the season is probably the best. If you fish for panfish, use as light a line as you dare. Use small teardrop jigs and ice flies for both crappie and bluegill and tip them with waxworms. Crappie like minnows too, so remember to have an assortment of live bait.
One item a lot of ice fishermen rely on is a Vexilar. Vexilars help locate fish, show how deep they are, will mark your bait and even allow you to see the fish take your bait. Panfish aren’t very aggressive during the winter and will quickly drop bait. That’s why Vexilars or other electronics like Aquaviews are handy during the winter.
and once you locate them you should have a hand held GPS system so you will know right were to go your next outing on the Ice. heres some cool info on GPS http://www.autonavigationgps.com
Northern pike are one of the more popular species during the winter. They are fairly easy to get, and don’t require much work. Using large shiners or smelt under a tip-up will usually get you some action during the daylight hours. Use braided dacron line, and steel leaders to prevent bite offs.
Walleye require more finesse. Early and late in the day is usually better, but the best bites will be at night. A lot of guys will use tip- up lights attached to their tip-ups for them, and medium shiners, or fathead minnows are the bait of choice for walleye. Many people will use Windlass tip-ups because they have arms that will move up and down in the wind to give it some jigging action.
So, if you have put away your gun or bow for the year, and are anxious to get out fishing and have some fun, give the early ice a shot. There isn’t anything much better than getting a mess of fish out of cold water for a fish fry.