OLD BENGAL IS THE AUTHOR OF THIS HOW TO ICE FISH PETENWELL OR CASTLE ROCK OB- just want to keep this closer to the top so my new ll buddies could find it easyier will be out tue wed will report back This is an old post by Old Bengal, HOW TO ICE FISH PETENWELL OR CASTLE ROCK Every so often, on both the Petenwell and Castle Rock message boards, a person new to Lake-Link or new to these bodies of water asks essentially the same ice fishing question(s) - - ?I?ve never been to this lake before, I?m gonna give it a try, I?m coming up with my buddies or family, I need to know where to park, what?s the best time to fish, where should I fish, what baits should I use, how should I fish these baits, will I need to walk out or can I drive out with a car or trailer or four wheeler or snowmobile, can I eat the fish, etc. etc. etc.? We?ve all seen these posts, and depending upon our mood we either give an answer or simply ignore the plea for help. The fact is these questions are typically pertinent and often perfectly valid, but I?m not very good about responding. I learned MUCH of what I know about fishing these flowages from fellow Lake-Linkers, so in an attempt at New Year Cheer, here are some suggested steps to successfully ice fish Petenwell and Castle Rock. If these steps are well received, perhaps we can refer back to this post in the future when a new fisherman to our waters is soliciting advice and help? At any rate, here it goes: (1) BUY A GOOD MAP You absolutely must buy a map showing the old river channels and the water depths and contours. A map like the Fishing Hot Spots version is probably the most widely used. These maps not only show the lake details, but also the roads and parks and launches etc. surrounding the lake. Also, be willing to mark your copy when you find surprise features which are not shown on the official map. The maps are pretty good in general, but specific hot spots will come from your own personal experience. (2) READ TWO YEARS WORTH OF MESSAGE BOARD POSTS These message boards are simply FULL of great advice, and you shouldn?t limit yourself to the last 25 posts when reviewing the board. Get a cup of coffee, or a bottle of beer, or your favorite mixed drink and READ for a couple of hours. That?s right - - you heard me right - - read a couple of years worth of comments - - you?d FISH for a couple of hours, wouldn?t you?! Take notes. Refer to your map. Make notes on your map. By the time you are done doing these first two steps, you?ll know the answers to most of the questions I pointed out above! Where people bought bait - - where to park to fish the area you?ve targeted - - what the ice depth is - - whether folks are driving or walking - - what people are using - - how they?re fishing the baits - - how they?re rigging tipups - - etc. You get the idea - - I?m not exaggerating by saying if you just do these first two things and take good notes as you review the information, you greatly increase the odds of having a successful fishing day! If, however, you want some more general advice for these bodies of water, you may read on . . . . (3) FIND THE RIVER CHANNEL ; FIND SOME STRUCTURE Let?s pretend you haven?t read a doggone thing about either one of these lakes, but you did get a map and you made it to the lake and you?re ready to walk out onto the ice. Best advice I can give is to find that river channel. Remember, these lakes were created by damming the river(s) and flooding the surrounding areas. Often times the deepest holes and best bottom structure are in or around the old river channel. Use your vexilar, or a hand-held depth finder, to find the channel. (By the way, if you?re fishing on a weekend, the channel is often clearly marked by a bunch of anglers lined up roughly from north to south!!) Remember, other anglers? old holes can be checked faster than drilling your own new ones. Now that you?ve located the channel, look for some structure in the area. It made be an abrupt depth change (shelf) or it may be submerged trees or fence posts, or whatever. This is the part of the equation that is (a) most time consuming, and (b) most rewarding. I personally feel 30 or 40 minutes of looking for structure beats the heck out of fishing a featureless bottom that will rarely if ever attract or hold fish. It?s often referred to as sweat equity. Here?s where you earn your own stripes (unless you are fortunate enough to check an old hole from another angler that shows some structure). By the way, a hand-held GPS unit pays for itself quickly at this point. You spent all that time finding the spot on the spot, so why not save it forever? Well worth the investment. (4) SET OUT TWO TIPUPS AND PLAN TO JIG THE THIRD HOLE There are three areas to fish with your Wisconsin-allowed three lines: The channel itself, halfway up the slope, and the top of the shelf. Arrange your home base on that structure you found. This will likely be at the edge of the channel where it starts to transition to the slope. Sometimes it?ll be halfway up the slope. Regardless, you want to JIG the structure. More on this later. Put your first tipup at the transition where the river channel starts to rise up, or place it halfway up the slope, whichever of these locations you are not jigging, and place your bait a foot off of the bottom. Put your second tipup in the shallowest water, and place your bait halfway down the water column. (for example, 5 feet down in 10 feet of water). More on tipup setup later. (5) WHAT AND HOW TO JIG Did you read the message boards? Don?t forget, advice on the Petenwell board is just as applicable to Castle Rock fishing, and vice versa. But here again, let?s say ya didn?t read squat! What to do? Have two jigging poles ready to go. One is a medium setup with four to six pound test line, and the other is a lighter setup with 2 to 4 pound test. Now, remember these two words - - COLOR, NOISE. These waters are stained, so attracting the fish with bright colors and noisy rattlin? vibratin? lures is typically a good thing. You pick your favorites, but on my heavier pole I love the Buckshot Rattle Spoon tipped with a minnow head for walleye and crappie and perch, and on the lighter pole I like a Fat Boy jig in glow colors tipped with maggots for bluegill and perch and crappie. There are a million combinations here, and every once in a while a darker lure with a more subtle presentation works best, but more often than not you should go with colorful and noisy. Draw those fish in from those surrounding thousands of acres of underwater habitat! (6) TIPUP SETUP The combinations here, too, are too many to list, but I highly recommend you include some color or flash (or both) to your tipup setup. Colored hooks, or even jig heads for your hook, combined with a spinner blade or piece of yarn or foil tied in somewhere just above your hook increases the odds of a fish investigating your offering. Wind tipups sometimes outfish still presentations, and vice versa. Have I asked if you?ve read the message boards lately!? Lots of good advice is always available. (7) NOW I?M FISHING, BUT NOT CATCHING ; WHAT NEXT? Move holes. If you?ve been jigging the deep hole, jig the middle hole, or even the shallow hole. Drill three new holes if you?ve seen nothing in a while. Mobility is important. Don?t sit on a dead hole all day. And for goodness sake, if you?re fishing with friends, don?t everyone use the same bait and lure. Mix it up. ( I CAUGHT SOME FISH ; WHAT NEXT? Duplicate that color or presentation in a similar hole. For example, if you catch 2 fish shallow on your tipup rigged with an orange jig head fished 4 feet down in 8 feet of water, I?d drill another hole in 8 feet of water and match that setup with my other tipup. You get the idea. The fish will tell you what they want that day. (9) WATCH THAT VEX FOR CRAPPIE As you jig, you WILL see fish appear four feet off of bottom on your vexilar. These are roamin? crappie. They won?t be there long, though, so react quickly and get your bait up into the 4 to 5 foot range and attract that fish. If you shake the heck out of your bait and then hold it still, you?ve got an 80% chance of a strike. It happens all the time. Sometimes it?s a distinctive thump down, but just as often your line will go slack as the crappie lifts on your bait. Everyone who fishes these flowages knows this. We are always tuned in to blips four foot off of the bottom. (10) ARE THEY GOOD TO EAT? Yes. Follow the safety regulations regarding how much to eat, but the fish taste just fine. Well, that?s enough. Obviously there are hundreds of different variations on these themes, but the program listed above works just fine much of the time. There are many fisherman who fish these waters better and more often than I do, but these steps will help a new angler to get started on these lakes. Here it is summed up in one sentence: GET A MAP, STUDY THE MESSAGE BOARDS, AND FISH THE CHANNEL AREAS WITH COLORFUL NOISY BAITS. One other thing - - if you set up right on top of someone else, don?t expect them to be very helpful. But, if you set up a reasonable distance away from another group you will not appear to be invading their space and they will not feel threatened (or upset) by your presence. If you haven?t caught any fish in a while, it?s ok to quietly walk up to another ice fisherman and ask if he?s figured out what those doggone fish want today! I?ve never been unwilling to help another polite ice angler. There?s thousands of acres of ice to fish; why not help your fellow angler? Good luck to all. Cheers. ?