Yesterdays limited results and cold temperatures had me excited to sleep in a bit. I had a few errands to run in the morning but I was still on the ice around 10. I cut out a large area on a dated waypoint from a few years ago but was disappointed to see that the weeds were thick and right to the surface.
About two holes in to a patch of sparse weeds that I found, I heard voices from kids coming my way. I poked my head out of the shack and saw a mother with two little ones. They were looking for someone to let them fish some holes so I found a good looking hole and helped the kids land a few fish before the cold drove them away. The were bummed their trip was short but at least they didn’t get skunked!
I spent the rest of the day huddled in the warmth of my shack sight fishing gills as they moved around. It was possible to sit in one hole and catch a fish on average every other minute but it’s hard for me to be content with that. I kept cutting trying to locate the weed edges that ranged from nothing to dense.
Towards the end of the day I found a good concentration of big gills in just a few feet of water. I spend the rest of my time sitting in one hole pulling fish after fish until I needed to get home.
My scouting mission was a success and now I am ready for when someone needs a good bite!
I started off my day with a trip to the dentists so things were off to a late start. The snow was flying and with past experiences, many of the best bites have come under similar conditions. The worst part of the day was the 30 mph winds that were predicted to blow!
I hooked up with my buddy around 10:30 and we started fishing on a spot that we hadn’t cut up yet this winter. Things were slow and the few fish that we found were sitting over the top of short weeds in 10+ feet of water. The weedbeds for the most part were almost too thick to fish! After a few slow hours, we packed up and made a move to a new bay hoping things would improve.
After arriving at the second stop, we made small talk with the only guy in the area. He agreed the fishing was slow but told us to cut where ever we wanted. As we worked through the fresh holes, we picked away at the few fish that were around. We knew we weren’t on the spot so we moved in multiple directions until we found a concentration of better sized fish.
We worked over the area pretty well and were content with the results that we were seeing. We were even able to find a few crappie in the area. Things were looking up for an evening Hydro Glow bite!
Around 4:30 the wind really started to pick up and the bite shut off. From then until about 8 I could mark fish on my flasher but getting them to bite was nearly impossible. It was time to call it a night and rethink strategies for tomorrow!
We got the go ahead from the women to hit the ice on Valentine’s day. After sleeping in just a bit, we were headed out on the ice just after 8 to find some panfish. The bite has been decent but the fish quality varies constantly with a lot of small fish in the mix. Only a few people were out most likely do to the cold temps, wind, and snow. After cutting our way out, the fish seemed to be located over one specific weedbed. To combat the cold, we shacked up and got the heaters cranking.
The fish bit. There was nothing you could do wrong as long as the kept the jig moving. We sat 15 feet apart all day once we found a decent pod of fish. The action was constant for gills and the crappie came through in the mix. We were set up paralleling a nice weed edge that the fish were using.
Although the bite was steady throughout the day, the best bites were when the snow came down hard and when the sun was shining. The extremes seemed to bring on the bigger fish. While these were the times to capitalize on, fishing high in the water column also seemed to weed out quite a few of the smaller gills.
We made it home safely after some slippery roads most of the way home!
I pulled my shack up to my desired first hole still in the dark with hopes of some healthy Champlain panfish. I cut a few holes so that I could hop to when the action slowed up but with the severe cold I planned on spending the majority of my day in the warmth of my shack!
After cleaning my hole, igniting my heater, and baiting up my jig, I dropped down. Immediately I was greeted with the red glow of a fish rising from the weeds on my Vexilar. I was hooked up with my first crappie of the day! Nothing to complain about with with a 12″ crappie on the first drop!
From there, the fishing never slowed. There was an abundance of various sized gills. The crappie were around but with the concentration of gills, they didn’t stand a chance! I could have sat in one hole all day but it is very hard for me to be content when I know that there are better fish nearby.
I cut in all different directions and used my underwater camera to search for a hole with a better concentration of crappie. When I found what I was looking for I shacked up and started fishing. The crappie were happy to bite and after putting about a dozen topside I hooked into something significantly larger.
The battle pursued for several minutes with multiple long runs. I was happy to finally see the head of the 30″+ pike poking out of my now cloudy hole. It was cool to land a nice pike on 2 pound test but I was bummed that the hole was no longer fishable. I had just about every weed within 15 yards laying in top of the ice!
Shortly after, I found another concentration of fish and shacked up for the remainder of the day. I packed things up for the day around 4 and headed for home. A long day on the ice put a few nice meals on the table!
I made way for the big lake while the snow was flying. I intended to set up in the dark with the Hydro Glow for crappie but struck out after forgetting my wallet and having to back track. With only an hour till day light and no starting point, I cut a short string of holes hoping that one would offer decent weeds.
None of the holes looked great but I set up in the only one that had decent weeds. They were standing about 4 feet tall in 9 feet of water. While I only stuck one fish before sunrise, I saw several fish marking high so I figured I was in the right area. As I started to see daylight through my Clam one man shack, I decided it was time to shred the area in search of fish.
After cutting out a rather large area, I grabbed my camera and started looking around. I went nearly an hour and a half without seeing much more than a few pumpkinseed. I knew something was off so I started cutting in other directions. I tried south and west first but finally found some crappie set up to the north of my initial location.
I shacked up after locating a nice pod of fish and tried my luck. I caught one within a few minutes and then another. The third fish, however, was a heart breaker. As the two pound black poked into my hole, I realized that it had wrapped up in my transducer. When I tried to remedy the situation, it backed out of the hole and made a run, snapping my line.
For a while the bite got tough. Be it a lack of fish or lack of focus. I ended up staying close to the one hole that produced crappie and caught a total of 7 more before calling it quits around noon to get home before the roads got much worse!
Catching gills is always fun but it can also be very frustrating. When my buddy Tom called me up and said he needed some fish for a work related fish fry, I had just the spot in mind. While I hadn’t checked on the pond yet this winter, the timing was exactly one year from when I had found them last winter. I figured that they would be either in the weedbeds or closely adjacent.
After walking out to a weedbed that I had outlined in the summer, I cut out a large area hoping to find the fish on the edges suspending over short weeds. After only a few holes, I turned to see Tom with a beauty already in hand. Things were looking up and after I finished shredding a small area, I returned to find Tom with a nice pile of fish already started!
The bite stayed strong until around 10:30 when the sun poked through the fog. While bluegill were the main target, we also caught quite a few bass that were aggressively feeding in the mix. Throughout the course of the 5 hours that we fished, we released quite a few nice gills that broke the 9″ mark.
Things couldn’t have gone better. We had enough fish for his needs around noon so we packed it up and headed for a warm lunch at the nearby diner.
After a rough day yesterday I needed a little redemption. It was Superbowl Sunday so I figured things on the ice would be quiet. We were the first ones on and with holes drilled we started fishing.
The bite was steady but not hot. We picked and poked at lots of crappie and a few nice gills. They liked anything gold or white and when they got tight lipped a single maggot made a world of difference.
The bite changed a few times throughout the day. Early on they wanted things moving upwards very slowly. Around 9, jigging around 3 feet off bottom called in most fish. Towards the end of the day jigging down was the only way they would bite. Being able to figure out these different patterns wasn’t hard but if we hadn’t things would have been much less enjoyable.
When it was time to head home, we both had some nice fillets to cook up for a game time snack!
After a successful jigging new waters, we decided to test out the night time crappie bite. As many of your probably already know crappie can often be great night time feeders. Most fishermen choose to fish at night using some sort of illumination, anything from a lantern to a car headlight. For a few years now we have been fishing for crappie and trout at night use the Hydroglow Fishing Light. The Hydro Glow illuminates by using Green LED’s which are less abrasive to the fish and their feeding attitude.
We cut three holes, put the light in the middle hole and shacked up. As you can see in the pictures below the light really illuminates the ice and the water underneath it. It didn’t take long for the light to begin attracting bait-fish and crappie. Dylan hooked into a crappie within the first 10 minutes of the light being deployed. Night fishing requires a lot of patience. The fish typically are cruising at night searching out an easy meal. The longer you can stay in a hole with fish nearby the better chance you will have of putting a few topside. We fished them the same as we would during the day. Small jigs tipped with Maki Plastics and spikes.
The area we were fishing didn’t have much for weeds or any other kind of structure. When you would mark a fish on the bottom they were usually pretty easy to entice them into biting. We were able to ice a decent number of crappie with a few bluegill and perch mixed in a matter of a few hours. Not a bad first trip for a new spot.
We have had some great days during heavy snowfalls and today was no different. I arrived to my spot later than anticipated after missing my alarm and having to deal with snowy roads throughout the entire drive. I was cutting my first hole after 9 am though and was pleasantly surprised to see nothing but crappie as far as I could see on my underwater camera. After cutting another dozen holes, I got to fishing.
The first, second, and third fish that I caught were all crappie. The size also increased throughout as well. After the first three drops, I began catching mostly pumpkinseed so I moved on. The fishing slowed the deeper that I went so I was able to dial in an area and cut more holes over the sweet spot.
Throughout the day, the fish bit consistently as long the wind wasn’t blowing from the north. Mostly, the wind came from the west but it was variable and gusty. Fortunately, it switched often enough so that I never went long without a fish! When the wind stayed constant from the north, I used the downtime to search for better pods of crappie.
It’s always a toss up whether noise scares fish. Sometimes one auger is fine but two is too much. Other times it fires them up or scares them away. Today, cutting holes worked to my advantage. The noise seemed to scare the pumpkinseed and bluegill away. When they were gone the crappie fed heavily! I was able to capitalize during these times to add to my collection of fish!
It’s always tough swallowing a skunk or anything close to it but usually you can find some good out of it. We searched out some new spots today. Spots that in the summer are decent at times but in general only for short time periods. With a mind set that things might be a bust, we made way at well before first light.
We caught some crappie and bluegill right off but things really shut off as the wind picked up. With the fishing slowing the final bit of motivation to leave came when a guy started setting his tip ups in the few holes that we had cut.
Our second stop for the day was at a local bait shop that we spend quite a bit of time at. We talked fishing, picked up some spoons, and traded some fish tales. From there we sat in the parking lot and made a game plan for the rest of the day. We picked out a few spots that produce decent fish in the summer but we had never set foot on after ice up.
We cut apart two more bodies of water before realizing that it wasn’t a day for searching out fish. Either they had gone somewhere completely out of the ordinary or they just weren’t biting. With a lack of hooksets, we decided to head to a deepwater bluegill lake that rarely disappoints.
After making the mile walk to the desired hump, we cut out a large area that they usually roam through. With holes ranging from 35 up to 11 feet of water we began fishing. The marks were present and aggressive. The first few fish that came up were bass. Within a few holes though we had found gills. The problem was they were small. Fishing about 20 feet from my buddy Andy, my Vexilar let up with 16 feet of fish in 35 feet of water. Confused I asked him what he was seeing. Soon enough both of our graphs were stacked up. He sent his underwater camera down surprised to see thousands of gills stacked top to bottom. With bigger ones in the mix we picked away until we got frustrated. Occasionally, we would pluck and aggressive largemouth of rainbow cruising through the bait.
With out heads sore from scratching, we packed up our gear and headed back to the parking lot. The whole day was strange and I think we can contribute most of the lack of fish to an off day. Certainly, we can’t give up after just one bad trip!